Orthodontic treatment plans are specific to each patient and may require the use of more than one type of device or appliance. Traditional brace therapy is an excellent way to correct malocclusions, but sometimes the braces themselves are not enough to move the teeth and jaws into proper alignment. Braces work by exerting force on the teeth to loosen and allow them to move, but when there are more severe issues than just straightening teeth, the use of elastics may be necessary.
Elastics are rubber bands used in traditional brace therapy. They can be a paramount and essential addition to aligning not only the teeth but also the jaw into proper placement. They provide additional force to make corrections and can be a crucial part of helping to position and correct an improper bite.
There are different kinds of malocclusions that require the use of elastics for the efficacy of traditional fixed orthodontics. They are classified as Class II, Class III, vertical and midline. The goal of implementing elastics is to increase the force placed upon the mandible. They work by either opening the bite, vertical, transversal and horizontal movements, space closing, maniple mesializing and distalizing, inter-canine relation and midline shift correction and dental extrusion.
Braces are used to move the teeth and jaw into proper alignment, but they are not always capable of producing the required torque necessary to make significant changes that require more than just one jaw. That is why during critical phases of orthodontic treatment, it may be required to employ the additional use of elastics.
Sometimes elastics will be enough to realign the teeth and jaw, while other treatment plans will require the additional use of headgear. The type of elastics needed depends on what the orthodontic condition is, the severity of it, and how the teeth and jaw need to be altered and moved.
Class II elastics are used to correct an overbite. Class III are used to correct an underbite. Vertical elastics are used to keep teeth together, and front cross elastics are used to correct a midline.
Elastics also come in varying sizes depending on the amount of force needed to alter the teeth and jaw. Using the correct size, in the right manner, is imperative to have the desired outcome. That is why one of the major disadvantages of using elastics is that the patient is responsible for the placement and use of them. Incorrectly placing them can lead to improper movement and problems with dental health. The wrong placement of elastics can cause wear and tear to the teeth and lead to tooth decay.
Elastics are completely removable and can be worn either full or part-time at night. Full-time is typically required to alter an improper bite and part-time is often prescribed to hold a correction once it is made. Whatever the patient is prescribed, the outcome is dependent on patient compliance. Elastic efficacy requires constant and consistent pressure.
Not all patients that require braces need the additional use of elastics. When they are a requirement for a treatment plan, however, compliance and proper use are the keys to obtaining optimal results.