This article contains everything you need to know about Invisalign rubber bands.
To say that Invisalign changed the landscape of orthodontic treatment is a huge understatement. Invisalign clear aligners introduced not just another effective way to fix malocclusions; they also managed to solve the common problems associated with traditional braces such as discomfort, pain, and most importantly aesthetics. Despite their obvious differences, Invisalign aligners and braces have a few things in common as well, one of which is their use of elastic bands. Yes, you read that right; Invisalign treatment may also require you to wear rubber bands. Here is everything you need to know about Invisalign rubber bands.
This may come as a surprise for many people, but in some cases, your orthodontist may require you to wear rubber bands and a rubber band attachment in addition to the clear aligner trays. But what does Invisalign elastics really do? Can Invisalign treatment work without it?
Rubber Bands and Attachments for Invisalign
Traditional braces correct malocclusions and straighten teeth by moving each tooth with the use of brackets and metal wires. Rubber bands are attached to increase the force on certain parts of the mouth. Invisalign elastics serve a similar purpose – rubber bands work by applying an additional pulling force on specific parts of the mouth.
Invisalign rubber bands are small elastic bands that connect the upper and lower teeth by attaching to both upper and lower aligners through special hooks built right into the aligners called Invisalign attachments.
These hooks are composite buttons bonded to your teeth. This gives the aligners something to grip to allow more complex tooth movements. To keep them discreet like the clear aligners, the attachments are tooth-colored. The attachments and rubber bands allow Invisalign to fix more complex cases of malocclusions with better efficiency and faster treatment time. The elastics are arranged depending on the specific type of bite problem and the condition of the teeth.
How Invisalign rubber bands work with the clear aligners
Invisalign aligners correct malocclusions by moving the teeth in each arch independently. In some cases, however, a connective force is needed to shift both upper and lower sets of teeth into their ideal position to align the bite (the way upper and lower teeth should naturally come together when you close your mouth). This is where the importance of rubber bands gets into the picture – it provides the needed connective force.
Elastic bands or rubber bands create resistance between the upper and lower jaw, while the pressure it provides guides the jaw into the right position to fix the malocclusion, whether it’s a crossbite, open bite, or underbite.
Can Invisalign treatment work without the attachments and rubber bands?
Absolutely, yes. But usually for mild to moderate problems of crowding or misalignment, and as long as the patient has a healthy bite.
For some cases, however, the attachments and rubber bands are needed to provide retention to the aligners and apply more force in order to move the teeth in the right direction.
This is why each Invisalign treatment plan is unique. Orthodontists must create a personalized treatment plan based on the needs and current condition of the patient. For people with bite alignment problems, elastics and attachments are used to both straighten the teeth and align the bite.
For bite alignment treatment, orthodontists usually use two Invisalign elastics; one for each side of the mouth. These bands usually run from the upper canine or eyetooth down to a lower molar. The position and size of the bands, of course, depend on the customized treatment plan. Like the clear aligners, however, both the Invisalign attachment buttons and bands are discreet.
Fixing overbite and overjet with Invisalign rubber bands
Overbite and overjet are probably the most common type of bite conditions fixed with Invisalign. Overbite happens when the last two molars of the lower jaw grow far back than the last molars of the upper jaw. This results in a misalignment as the upper jaw projects too far forward.
To treat overbite problems, Invisalign elastics are attached to the upper canines down to the lower molars.
Fixing underbite with Invisalign rubber bands
Underbite occurs when the first molar of the bottom jaw shifts too far forward than its upper jaw counterpart. To treat mild to moderate cases of underbite with Invisalign, the rubber bands are hooked from the top back of the molar down to the lower canines.
Fixing anterior open bites with Invisalign rubber bands
An anterior open bite happens when both the front upper and lower teeth slant too far out and don’t touch when the mouth is closed. To treat mild to moderate anterior open bites, Invisalign rubber bands are attached to both the top and bottom front teeth.
Preserving bite with Invisalign rubber bands
As soon as you get the ideal bite alignment for your teeth, you may be prescribed to use vertical elastics to help preserve your bite. Invisalign rubber bands are attached to the same tooth on both the top and bottom of your mouth to help keep the positions of the teeth.
Does everyone need the bands?
As said earlier, only some cases require elastic bands. That means those eligible for Invisalign treatment need to have elastic bands on their clear plastic aligners. Minor cases like mildly overcrowded teeth and small gaps do not require elastic bands.
If the malocclusion also comes with misalignment of the top and bottom teeth that affects the bite (underbite, overbite, etc.), then the treatment will most likely come with elastic bands.
Are Invisalign rubber bands visible?
One of the most common reasons why people opt for Invisalign treatment over traditional braces is the aesthetic appeal. Invisalign, which means “invisible aligner”, is exactly what its name says – it’s virtually invisible. Adding the attachments and bands may make the aligners more noticeable, but this usually depends on which area of the mouth they are attached to.
The attachment hooks (buttons) that bond straight to the teeth are generally tooth-colored, and they are quite discreet especially when attached to the back of the mouth.
The bands, on the other hand, are quite more noticeable than the buttons. If attached to the front, then they are definitely visible. However, your orthodontist can use clear elastics, which are far less noticeable than other colors.
If you have concerns about how the elastic bands might look in your mouth, then it is best to talk with your orthodontist ahead of time to know what to expect.
How long do I need to wear the bands?
This will be determined in your treatment plan. This, of course, differs from one case to another. Some patients may need to wear the bands throughout the entirety of their Invisalign treatment, while others may only need it for a couple of months.
Like the clear aligners, you will need to wear the bands for 20 to 22 hours a day, and take them out when eating, or brushing and flossing your teeth.
Since the bands will stretch out when you open and close your mouth (to talk, eat, yawn, laugh, etc.), you may have to change them multiple times a day (three or four times a day).
How to put on your Invisalign rubber bands
While it may seem straightforward, learning to put the bands on correctly is actually a little tricky in the beginning. As with other things, it gets easier as you become more experienced.
Your orthodontist, of course, will give you specific instructions. But here are a few guidelines to help you through:
- Line up the top and bottom clear aligners on your hand.
- Look for the hooks on both the top and bottom aligners where the bands should hook on to. Connect the bands to each hook.
- Hold the aligners like a sandwich and wear them on your teeth while keeping the tension of the bands.
- If you use buttons to attach the bands, then this method is for you.
- Remove the bottom aligner from your teeth
- Hook the bands on their assigned buttons. Use your finger to keep the tension as you fasten the aligner in your mouth.
- Grab one band and guide it to the button on the top tooth. Repeat on the other side.
What to do if my attachment falls off?
If the Invisalign composite falls off, and you no longer have a hook to attach the bands, then you can stop using them. Simply continue to wear your Invisalign braces and call your orthodontist about the problem. You will be scheduled for an appointment to fix your attachments.
Oral care with Invisalign attachments and elastic bands
As with other rubber bands, your Invisalign rubber bands will lose their elasticity and get loose over time. Thus, for the best results, you need to replace them regularly. Your orthodontist may require you to replace your bands about two to four times a day.
If you are outside and don’t have your fresh elastic bands with you, then it is best to wear the old ones you have than to wear nothing.
Also, even though you will replace your Invisalign trays regularly (around two weeks before moving to the next set), you need to keep your aligners clean. Here are a few tips on how to take care of your Invisalign aligner trays.
- Use clean water to rinse your water each night, do not use hot water
- Clean your aligners using soft-bristled toothbrush and liquid soap to remove any food debris
- Keep your aligners in its protective case when not in use
- Avoid using harsh cleaner for your aligners such as mouthwash, toothpaste, denture cleaner, or scented soap
- Remove your aligners and elastic bands when eating
- Try not to drink (other than water) when you have your aligners on
- Brush and floss your teeth regularly, but be very careful of any attachments or buttons in your teeth. Use soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid damage.
To get the best results, listen to your dental professional and follow their advice on how to take care of your teeth, attachments, and aligner trays. Never try to remove the attachments yourself. Prying them off your teeth can damage your enamel. It is best to leave this task to your orthodontist.