What Are the Rubber Bands for Braces Used For?

by | Jan 24, 2024 | Dental Braces, General Orthodontics, Orthodontic Treatments | 0 comments

There’s a small but crucial player in the world of braces we often overlook:

Rubber bands!

These tiny elastic loops apply extra pressure in just the right spots, shifting your pearly whites into the desired position.

While your braces’ wires and brackets are doing their job, these rubber bands work stealthily to ensure everything lines up just right.

Let’s dive into what makes these elastic bands so valuable and how they contribute to the big picture of your orthodontic journey!

What’s the Deal with Rubber Bands?

Orthodontic elastic bands are tiny, stretchy loops made of medical-grade material.

They aren’t the regular rubber bands you’d find on a school desk or around a pack of cards.

Instead, they’re the secret agents in the world of orthodontics, working behind the scenes to bring everything together for that million-dollar smile!

Rubber Bands Differ in Size, Force, and Material

Rubber band size, force, and material

Diving into the world of rubber bands for braces is like opening a box of tiny, stretchy tools, each with its own unique role.

Let’s break them down by size, force, and material: (Source: Healthline.com)


  • Small: These tiny ninjas of the rubber band world are used for delicate, precise movements.
  • Medium: A bit larger, they’re used in a variety of orthodontic situations.
  • Large: These heavy lifters come through when more significant tooth movements are needed.


  • Light Force: These bands are used for minor adjustments—like a gentle nudge.
  • Medium Force: They balance gentle guidance and a firmer push.
  • Heavy Force: These heavyweights provide the most vigorous push for stubborn teeth.


  • Latex: Natural rubber bands are many orthodontists’ go-to—unless you have a latex allergy.
  • Synthetic: Made from hypoallergenic materials, they ensure you don’t have to deal with itchy allergic reactions.

The 5 Classes of Rubber Bands

5 Classes of Rubber Bands

Rubber bands come in five special classes—I, II, III, Vertical, and Cross—each with its superpowers:

Class I

Orthodontists use these elastic bands for minor adjustments. They work within the same arch—either the top or bottom teeth—to fix slight misalignments.

Class II

These rubber bands stretch from a top back tooth to a bottom front tooth, gently encouraging the lower jaw to move forward and the upper teeth to move back.

Class III

The opposite of Class II, these bands focus on correcting underbites.

They pull from a bottom back tooth to an upper front tooth, guiding the upper jaw forward and the lower jaw back.


These rubber bands run top to bottom (or bottom to top) in a straight line, ensuring that your teeth don’t tip forward or backward and stay perfectly upright.


Cross rubber bands cover your mouth in a criss-cross fashion, working to align your bite correctly by moving specific teeth in opposite directions.

What’s the Purpose of Elastic Rubber Bands on Your Braces?

Purpose of Elastic Rubber Bands on Braces

Rubber bands apply gentle yet constant force to move your teeth in the right direction.

They work alongside the braces, ensuring everything aligns just right for that winning smile.

Rubber bands are key players in fixing various dental dilemmas, such as:

  • Overbite Correction: When your upper teeth are protruding too far out over the lower ones, rubber bands help reel them back in.
  • Underbite Management: In cases where your lower teeth try to take the lead, elastic bands guide them back to follow the upper teeth.
  • Crossbite Solution: If some of your teeth are in the wrong line, rubber bands help sort them out.
  • Gap Bridging: Got some extra space between your teeth? Rubber bands act like bridges, bringing your teeth closer together.
  • Aligning the Jaw: Sometimes, it’s not just about the teeth. Rubber bands adjust the jaw position for a better bite and a comfy placement.

Frequently Asked Questions about Rubber Bands with Braces

How Do I Put My Rubber Bands On?

How to Put Rubber Bands On

Here’s how to master the art of attaching rubber bands to your braces, step by step:

  • Wash Your Hands: First, give your hands a good scrub to keep those germs away from your mouth.
  • Grab Your Tools: You’ll use your fingers or a special tool to handle the rubber bands.
  • Identify the Hook Points: Your orthodontist will show you where the hooks are on your braces. They’re the tiny anchors waiting for the rubber bands.
  • Stretch the Band: Take one rubber band and stretch it out.
  • Attach the First End: Hook one end of the band onto the designated bracket or hook on your brace.
  • Stretch Across: Bring the other end of the band across to the opposite hook. It will create the tension needed to nudge your teeth into the correct position.
  • Secure the Second Hook: Attach the band to the second hook point.
  • Check the Tension: Ensure the band is snug but not too tight.

How Long Will I Be Wearing Rubber Bands?

The time you need to wear rubber bands on your braces depends on multiple factors.

Generally, most patients rock their rubber bands day and night, except during meals and tooth brushing.

The total treatment duration ranges from a few months to a year.

It’s all about the goals set for your smile. Some patients wear them for a shorter period, while others are in it for the long haul.

How Often Will I Change My Rubber Bands?

Quite often!

Most orthodontists recommend swapping them out for new ones every day.

Rubber bands do a ton of heavy lifting, losing their stretchiness—and effectiveness—over time.

A daily change of bands ensures the tension stays just right.

Plus, keeping your orthodontic elastic bands fresh maintains optimal oral hygiene!

Do Rubber Bands with Braces Hurt?

You will initially feel discomfort when you start wearing rubber bands on your braces.

These elastic wonders are working overtime to move your teeth into the correct position. Your teeth aren’t used to being pushed around like this, so they’ll protest at first.

The level of discomfort varies from patient to patient.

Some of our past patients describe it as a feeling of pressure rather than outright pain. It’s most noticeable when you try on new rubber bands or switch to a different size or strength.

Fortunately, your mouth adjusts after a few days, and the feeling becomes much less noticeable!

However, if you’re feeling constant discomfort or it’s not vanishing with time, bring it up with your orthodontist.

Do I Need to Wear Rubber Bands All the Time?

It depends on your orthodontist’s game plan.

For most of our patients, it’s close to 24/7. That includes sleeping and eating times!

The more you wear your elastic bands, the quicker and better they work their magic.

Sometimes, you can take a little rubber band break—when you’re brushing your teeth or swapping in a new set.

If you’re afraid of being self-conscious about your rubber bands during a fancy event, check with your orthodontist. They might give you the green light to go band-free for a short while.

How Do I Care for My Rubber Bands?

How to Care for Your Rubber Bands

Here’s your secret guide to mastering the art of rubber band maintenance:

  • Keep Them Clean: Rubber bands aren’t fond of food leftovers or plaque. So, brush your teeth regularly and thoroughly.
  • Change Them Often: Swap out those bands for new ones as often as your orthodontist suggests, usually once or twice a day.
  • Always Have Spares: Keep extra bands handy—your backpack, purse, or pocket. You never know when you might need a quick change!
  • Follow Instructions: Stick to how your orthodontist has instructed you to wear the bands.
  • Be Gentle: Avoid snapping your bands in—it’s not a slingshot contest.
  • Watch What You Eat: Sticky, hard, or chewy foods are the kryptonite to your bands.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking water keeps your mouth healthy and helps maintain the integrity of the bands.
  • Regular Check-Ups: Be sure to keep up with your orthodontic appointments.

My Elastic Rubber Bands Came Off: What Should I Do?

What to do when your Elastic Rubber Bands Come Off

It’s not the end of the world if the rubber bands on your braces suddenly come off.

Here’s your action plan to get back on track:

  1. Stay Calm and Collected: First, keep your composure—the situation is entirely fixable.
  2. Assess the Situation: See where the rubber bands popped off. Is it just one, or have multiple decided to go rogue?
  3. Attempt a DIY Fix: If your orthodontist has taught you how to replace rubber bands, try putting a new one back on using the special hook or your fingers.
  4. Keep Spare Bands Handy: Think of keeping an extra pencil for a pop quiz!
  5. Follow Your Orthodontist’s Map: Refer to any diagrams or instructions your orthodontist gave you to ensure you’re hooking the bands correctly.
  6. Avoid Overstretching: Overstretching can weaken the band, making it lose its snap.
  7. Call Your Orthodontist if Needed: If you’re unsure about putting the band back on or if it’s happening too often, call your orthodontist.
  8. Keep Up the Good Work: Continue your oral hygiene and care routine once the band is back in place.
  9. Monitor for Changes: If the same band keeps popping off or you notice anything unusual, bring it up with your orthodontist during your next visit.

Stretching Towards Perfection with Braces Rubber Bands!

Contact Patuxent Orthodontics if orthodontic care is the solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of orthodontic care or have questions about the process, use our live chat, call (240) 802-7217, or message us through our Contact Us page to connect with our friendly staff today and book a complimentary consultation!

Our office, located at 44220 Airport View Dr., Hollywood, MD 20636, proudly serves Maryland’s Patuxent area, as well as the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Hollywood, Wildewood, or Leonardtown and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Maryland, don’t hesitate to visit our office!

We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining your perfect smile, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!


  1. “Braces with Rubber Bands: Purpose and How Long They Stay On.” Healthline, Healthline Media, www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/braces-rubber-bands. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.
  2. “What Do Rubber Bands Do on Braces?” OC Dental Center, dentalorangecounty.com/blog/what-do-rubber-bands-do-on-braces/. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.
  3. “Why Use Rubber Bands with Braces?” Colgate®, www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/adult-orthodontics/why-use-rubber-bands-with-braces. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

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