Braces Rubber Bands: Purpose, Types, Colors, How To Put

You have to wear various types of components for braces treatment. The most common of them is elastics or rubber bands. Some rubber bands on braces are active that used to give extra pressure to your teeth, while some elastics are passive.

Here we’ll discuss everything regarding rubber bands for braces including types, purpose, uses, colors, how to put, and get answers to questions regarding it.

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What are the rubber bands for braces?

Rubber bands for braces are the elastics made attachments for braces that are attached to the brackets to put additional pressure on teeth and move them in a specific position, especially to fix an overbite.

Rubber bands on braces

These are also known as orthodontic elastic bands. Some elastics are also used to hold the brackets and wire in position.

They are of different colors, which makes the orthodontic treatment interesting. You may get some elastics during the last stage of treatment. So, you may become happy about that.

But, all rubber bands on braces aren’t the same, so you must be clear about the types of them to get all answers or solutions for any problem.

Types of rubber band braces

Here are the types of rubber bands or elastics used in orthodontics such as rubber bands or elastic bands, ligatures, and power chains.

Interarch rubber bands

This variety is also made of elastic which is almost oval in shape and quite large. It has two ends used to connect the brackets of the two arches.

We attach one end to a certain bracket of the upper jaw and the other end to the bracket of the lower jaw.

Usually, you have to wear two bands on two sides of your jaw. They are of different types based on their function in braces treatment.

Class 2 elastic

When one or more upper front teeth are forwardly placed in relation to lower teeth, rubber bands can help to bring them back.

Usually, an orthodontist places one end of elastic to the bracket of the upper lateral incisor and another end to the hook of a lower molar band.

A class 2 rubber band can correct class 2 div 1 malocclusion, anterior open bite, and midline deviation.

Class 3 elastic

When the position of one or more upper teeth are backwardly placed (called class 3 malocclusion), these rubber bands with braces help push them forward.

One end of elastic is attached to the bracket of the lower canine or lateral incision tooth and another end is attached to the hook of an upper molar band. We may also have to wear this if you have an anterior crossbite.

Anterior elastics

When you have a deep bite or overbite, you need these rubber bands. It can open your bite up to 2mm. It’s also used to close the space between front teeth.

For doing that, one end of the band is attached to the bracket of the lower canine or lateral incisor, and the other end is attached to the upper lateral incisor or central incisor tooth.

Open bite elastics

The orthodontist uses this to correct open bites. This is used in various shapes such as box, vertical, or triangle elastics.

When you have an open bite, a configuration of a box or triangle is created using the rubber bands. As a result, upper and lower teeth get connected with each other. This solves the open bite problem over time.

Triangle rubber bands

V-shaped or Triangle elastic is used for the correction of a canine tooth. Suppose, your one of your canine isn’t touching your opposite tooth or plane where all teeth take a bite.

That means, there is an open bite. To bring the canine in that plane, the orthodontist uses the triangle rubber bands in braces.

He or she chooses 3 teeth to place the band, and do it in such a way that the apex of the band forms on the canine.

We take support from the lower two teeth to form a triangle. With the help of those two teeth, rubber bands pull the canine to the occlusion plane.

Box rubber bands

Rectangular or box elastic works in the same way as triangle elastics, but it uses for more than one teeth. However, it’s mainly used to close the gap between teeth.

Intra-arch rubber bands

These elastic bands are used in the same jaw. Some of them make contact with two teeth, and some contact with more teeth. They are of the following types:

Cross elastic

This is similar to an inter-arch rubber band. But, the only difference is it connects two brackets of the same jaw.

Cross elastic corrects the crossbite, which means it helps when a single tooth is abnormally placed in a jaw. By using the band, we can bring it to the arch.


Ligatures are those elastics for which you can make your braces colorful. They are too small in size. In fact, a ligature is circular in shape and its size is almost the same as a bracket.

The dimension of the central hollow portion is smaller than that of the bracket. That’s why it can easily be placed around the bracket and holds the brackets.

However, an orthodontist doesn’t attach a single ligature only. He or she puts ligatures on every bracket.
These elastics don’t move your tooth like the inter-arch rubber bands.

Elastic separator

This is a small piece of elastic. If you have no space between your teeth and space is required, the orthodontist will use small elastic.

He or she will place it in between your teeth. Eventually, it’ll create space. It may require during the placement of molar bands.

Power chain or class 1 or horizontal elastics

Another important intra-arch elastic component of braces is the power chain. This is a long elastic band having holes throughout its length and resembles a chain.

It places over the brackets for certain types of tooth movement or other purposes. In this article, we have discussed all elastic bands except power chains, as we have a dedicated article for power chain braces.

We also want to make it clear that, when we’ll use the term rubber bands for all orthodontic elastics here, except ligatures and power chains. The reason is the working principle is almost the same for most of the bands.

Purpose of using rubber bands

When brackets and archwire can’t do the complete work to fix the bite on their own, we take help from inter-arch elastics. It can move teeth in that direction that brackets can’t do alone in some cases.

Rubber bands are used to put extra pressure on the teeth and align teeth properly by moving them to a specific place.

Brackets also have a limit to moving teeth. So, we take advantage of the bands to provide more force.

But, it also remains within certain limits or, it may damage the teeth. Your orthodontist controls the force, so no need to worry.

On the other hand, ligatures are used to protect the braces, hold them in position, and prevent wires to get popped out and hurting your mouth.

If you are interested, you may check out our recommended braces care kit.

When do you get rubber bands for braces?

You may need rubber bands at any time during the treatment. Sometimes you have to use it at the early stage, and sometimes at the late stage.

An orthodontist suggests you wear inter-arch rubber bands to correct overbite, underbite, or crossbite.

The exact time of getting the rubber bands to vary from case to case. It also depends on the treatment planning of your orthodontist.

On the other hand, the orthodontist starts to use ligatures at the very beginning of the treatment and you have to wear them thought the treatment period.

When braces treatment starts, the orthodontist puts brackets on your teeth. Then, he or she attaches archwires and tightens them.

After that, you get those colorful ligatures over your brackets to protect them.

Are rubber bands necessary for braces?

Yes, wearing a rubber band is one of the most important parts of orthodontic treatment. It’s used in the active phase of treatment, which helps correct the bite.

In most cases, it takes the majority of the time of orthodontic treatment, and treatment can’t be completed without using it.

If you want to get a drastic change in your smile, you must wear it regularly and follow all the instructions for using it.

However, ligatures or those colorful elastics may also be important to protect the braces and give you a beautiful look.

How rubber band braces work?

If you want to know the importance of wearing rubber bands regularly, you have to understand, How elastic bands work and what do rubber bands do on braces?

Orthodontists take advantage of the elastic property of the rubber band to move the tooth. When an elastic is pulled and released, it returns to its original state.

It applies a force during its return to the previous state. We use this force to put pressure on teeth. Let’s know the process in detail.

First of all, you need to know about brackets and archwires. Brackets can’t move your tooth alone. We attach wires in the slot of brackets.

Archwire puts pressure on the tooth through brackets. For this reason, we tight the archwire to put a for. But, we have to do it within a limit.

If we provide too much pressure, the tooth may get damaged. However, in some cases, we need to give more force. For doing that, we take help from the rubber bands.

Another reason for its use is it helps move the tooth in that place, which the wires can’t do on their own.

But, how can it move your tooth?

We put the rubber band to attach it to the brackets. Because of its elastic property, it wants to go back to its normal state. So, it starts to apply force.

So, when the rubber band along with the wires apply force to the tooth through the bracket, the tooth gives pressure on the bone that holds it. Because of the pressure chemical reaction occurs within the bone.

At the site where the pressure is applied, bone resorption occurs. That means bone gets dissolved on that site. On the other side, the formation of new bone occurs. This is called a tension site.

As the bone surrounds the tooth, the tooth can change its position easily when space is created on one side.

It gets the space to move because of the dissolution of bone. We, the orthodontist, place the elastic according to our treatment plan.

This is how rubber bands work on braces. Because of this action, we can bring a protruded or retruded tooth back to its normal position and correct many cases like overbite or underbite.

However, ligatures have no such activity. They neither put any force nor move the teeth.

How to put on rubber band braces?

The position of rubber bands is planned in that way so that tooth can get space to move to the desired position.

An orthodontist chooses two brackets depending on the treatment plan. Generally, he or she places the two ends of the elastic to those two brackets.

For the first time, your orthodontist will attach the bands. After that, you have to do it for yourself, as we have to change the elastic bands on braces from time to time.

You have to use the same technique your orthodontist uses. He or she teaches you the method. But, if you forget it, let’s know about the position and placement of rubber bands.

Suppose, we need to wear an inter-arch rubber band. So, how to put rubber bands on braces for an overbite or protruded front teeth?

Placement of the rubber bands

Usually, you have to use the following method:

1. Take two rubber bands that your orthodontic provides.

2. Choose the two teeth that your orthodontist tells you.

3. Pick one rubber band and plan to attach it to the left or right side of the jaw.

4. Attach one end of the elastic to the hook of a bracket on the upper tooth such as lateral incisor tooth or canine.

And, attach the other end to the hook of the lower molar band (for protruded upper teeth) or lower canine (for overbite) or the tooth that your orthodontist has preferred.

Keep in mind that, here we have provided an example, but, you must place the elastics only to that brackets, which your orthodontist recommends. Placing it in the wrong place makes the situation worse.

5. Take another elastic band and put it on the other side using the same method.

After that, rubber bands start to work. They help bring the upper teeth back and lower teeth forward and correct the overbite.

In the case of protruded lower teeth, placement of the rubber bands is opposite to the correction of an overbite.

What happens if you put rubber bands on your teeth?

Don’t panic to put rubber bands on braces yourself. In fact, none is going to help you in that matter, because you have to wear it on your own and change it regularly.

It’s so simple and you don’t have to face any problem if you use proper methods while attaching the bands. Meanwhile, you can’t wear ligatures on your own. You must visit your orthodontist for that.

Are rubber bands for braces supposed to hurt?

After getting a rubber band on braces, it may not hurt as much as you felt after getting braces tightened for the first time.

However, you may feel mild pain or discomfort for the first few days to a week after those bands.

But, when it hurts you may be curious to know How to relieve pain from rubber bands?

You don’t need to do any special thing for this pain. You just have to take a soft diet and clean rubber bands as instructed.

If you can’t tolerate pain, you can take medications prescribed by your orthodontist.

You can also apply different techniques to get rid of the pain.

However, the ligature elastic doesn’t hurt your teeth. If you feel pain after getting those colorful ligatures, it may be due to archwire, not for it.

How fast do rubber bands move teeth?

Rubber bands accelerate the tooth movement process. This means the tooth moves faster with rubber bands than only with braces.

It reduces the overall duration of treatment. Usually, it takes up to 6-8 months. However, movement may vary from case to case. More time may be needed in severe cases. But, it can only happen when you wear the bands following all the rules and instructions.

How to use rubber bands – Rules and instructions

Here are the tips and instructions for using rubber bands with braces:

1. Wear the rubber bands regularly

Don’t try to stay away from the elastic bands. You have to wear them regularly. The orthodontist may suggest wearing it from 12 to 22 hours a day.

Some may advise you to remove the band only for eating and cleaning the mouth. In that case, you have to wear it constantly.

You must follow that, otherwise, you don’t get the benefit of using it, and the duration of treatment will be prolonged.

2. Change the rubber bands after every meal

You must remove and change the band 3 to 4 times every day, especially after each meal. One elastic can’t work very long.

So, it can’t move the tooth after that time. So, you should replace it from time to time. This also helps maintain oral hygiene.

3. Clean mouth after every meal

One of the most important things for orthodontic treatment is maintaining oral hygiene. It gets more important when you get an additional component to braces like rubber bands.

In addition to replacing the bands after a meal, you have to clean your teeth properly. Learn how to brush and floss teeth with braces on teeth and follow that.

4. Don’t wear excess bands

As you know, rubber bands help move teeth fast and you have full control over wearing them, you may want to wear double bands to move teeth quickly.

But, it’s not going to work. Moreover, it’ll damage your teeth and bone because teeth can’t bear excess force or pressure. Always follow the instructions of your orthodontist. Don’t overdo anything.

5. Don’t buy rubber bands

You can’t buy a rubber band from a dental store or market. There are different types of elastic bands with different sizes and shapes.

Orthodontists use the one that’s the best for you. So, collect the bands from your orthodontist and only use those.

6. Be careful of your diet

You may remove the bands during the meal. But there are times when you take snacks. You can’t remove it during that time.

But, you have to be cautious about that. Avoid taking foods frequently while wearing them. Even if you eat with the elastic, choose soft and liquid foods during that time.

Keep in mind that you have to protect the bands and braces while eating.

7. Keep wearing to relieve pain

It may be strange, but don’t think about taking a break from those rubber bands, if you feel pain. When you do it, it keeps hurting you.

But, when you wear it regularly, it stops hurting you and you get used to it gradually.

How often to change rubber bands on braces

You have to change rubber bands 3 to 4 times a day, as one band losses its function fast. If you don’t replace it with the new band regularly, the tooth will move slowly.

So, there’ll be delays in treatment and you have to wait for more to get rid of the braces. However, you can change ligatures during every appointment with your orthodontist, that’s usually every 6 to 8 weeks.

Rubber band braces colors

Rubber bands for braces are available in different colors such as blue, pink, red, green, white, or clear bands.

Normally, people don’t prefer wearing colorful inter-arch elastic bands. colorful inter-arch bands don’t look good on the mouth. So, they wear clear or white bands usually. Some kids like to wear colorful bands.

Now let’s talk about the ligature elastic and its color.

Braces treatment gets interesting when you can wear colorful braces. So, to make braces colorful you have to pick colorful ligature elastics. Tell your orthodontist about the color you love the most and he or she’ll attach the bands with that color.

How to choose rubber band braces colors?

All colors don’t look good on your teeth. You have to pick a color that makes your teeth look bright.

Avoid colors like white, neutral, or transparent colors for ligatures, as this may get stained easily and you can’t change them till the next appointment.

You should consider your skin tone, gender, age, and personality to get an appropriate color for rubber bands.

If you have a dark skin tone, go with darker colors such as bold jewel colors, neon colors, or others.

Get ideas for dark skin from here.

However, if you have a fair skin tone, choose brighter or lighter colors such as blue, violet, pink, navy, light purple, raspberry, red, and others,

Get ideas for light skin from here.

Moreover, the choices of girls and boys aren’t always the same.

Girls usually pick light pink, red, light blue, or other colors, while boys like to wear dark blue, blue, red, black, or other colors.

Get more ideas about girl’s and boy’s colors from other articles.

Some people like to choose a color based on the season and upcoming events. It’s also a great idea to pick 2 or 3 colors to make a combination.

You can take a color that represents summer or spring. Check this article to get more summer braces color combinations.

Side effects

There is no complication or side effect of wearing rubber bands. However, you may experience mild pain or discomfort for the first few days after getting the elastic bands.

After that, the pain goes away and you also get used to the feeling. However, you may have to suffer in the following situation-

  1. Using rubber bands other than your orthodontist provided
  2. Wearing bands buying yourself from a dental store.
  3. Using more than one elastic on a single site without the advice of orthodontists.

In these cases, you may have to face the following complications

  1. Feeling excess pain
  2. Gum tissue becoming weak
  3. Tooth-supporting bone getting damaged
  4. Destruction of tissue with the tooth
  5. Loosening of tooth

On the other hand, there’s no side effect of wearing ligature elastic, as ii don’t give any pressure to your teeth or braces.

FAQ on Rubber Band Braces

Are rubber bands for braces reusable and why?

No, rubber bands aren’t reusable because they lose their elastic properly fast. When it losses function, it can’t put force on the teeth.

As a result, you don’t get tooth movement as we expect. So, it has no use if you wear the same elastic band again and again or don’t change it from time to time.

We can’t use the same ligature elastics twice. They get stained, lose their color, and get loose.

Moreover, when an orthodontist removes them to adjust brackets and wires, they also lose their shape, get loose and useless.

What happens if I don’t wear my rubber bands for a day or 2 days?

Nothing will happen if you don’t wear rubber bands for 1 or 2 days. However, if you don’t wear it regularly, it can’t work properly and the treatment outcome is poor. It also causes pain from time to time.

Check this article to know detail about the effect of not wearing rubber bands.

How long do you have to use rubber bands for overbite and other cases?

It depends on the severity of the case and the treatment planning of the orthodontist. Usually, you may have to wear rubber bands for 6 to 8 months to fix the overbite and other cases.

However, it may take more or less time depending on how much bite needs to be corrected.

On the other hand, you have to wear ligature elastics, as long as you wear the braces.

Are rubber bands the last step to braces?

Rubber bands can be used in the final stage of braces treatment. However, you may get it early in the early phase of treatment sometimes.

It depends on the cases and treatment planning.

Check this article for detail.

Can you eat with rubber bands on your braces?

There is no such problem eating while wearing rubber bands. But, many Orthodontists suggest removing those elastic bands during taking a meal.

But, you must replace it after each meal. However, it may be only 3 to 4 times. But, what about other times, when you eat such as during taking snacks. You may not change the bands at that time.

How to eat with rubber bands?

You have to choose foods carefully so that they can’t damage bands and braces.

Take soft and liquid foods more while wearing elastic bands.

Don’t eat hard, crunchy, and sticky foods.

You have to be more careful with big-sized foods like Burger or apple. When you take a bite, you need to open your mouth wide which may tear the rubber bands.

So, it’s better to avoid these foods. However, you may cut them into small slices before you eat. You may also try other alternative foods with braces.

Learn how to eat with braces and rubber bands.

Do you sleep with elastics for braces?

Yes, you can sleep with elastic or rubber bands on braces. There’s no problem with that. In fact, most orthodontists suggest wearing the bands while sleeping to get the maximum impact on tooth movement.

In fact, during the last few days of wearing rubber bands, your orthodontist may suggest you wear them only at night.

Can you buy braces rubber bands? Where to buy it?

No, you can’t and shouldn’t buy rubber bands for braces as all aren’t the same. Use those elastic bands that your orthodontist gives you.

Depending upon the case, you get elastic bands that have a unique size and shape. All of them don’t provide the same amount of force to teeth.

Your orthodontist performs various types of measurements before giving you those bands. So, never go to a dental store or market to buy that for your own.

You can’t buy those colorful elastics or ligatures because you aren’t allowed to remove or attach them yourself. However, your orthodontists change the ligatures during every adjustment appointment.

Why do I only have to wear rubber bands on one side?

You may need to wear rubber bands only on one side when you have an uneven bite on that side. This may happen when one or two teeth are abnormally positioned on a jaw.

In orthodontics, it’s called a crossbite. You have to be aware of the site while wearing the rubber bands or it may cause harm.

Can I ask for rubber bands for braces?

You may ask for ligature elastics bands for braces, but you can’t ask for those rubber bands that are used to move the tooth.

The orthodontist knows best what it’s required to align your teeth. The reason for your asking is to make braces colorful.

In that case, you may ask for the ligature elastics. It’s to make your braces colorful as well as it holds the brackets and wires in position.

How much do rubber band braces cost?

You don’t need to pay for rubber bands. But you may wonder why? The reason is the orthodontist includes all costs of braces and their components for full treatment.

However, its cost may vary depending on the length of treatment and the types of materials used. If you get those ligature elastics, the price may be higher than that of rubber bands.

Is there an alternative to rubber bands for braces?

Forsus spring is a great alternative to rubber bands for braces when patients aren’t comfortable wearing the elastics. They follow the same principle to correct an overbite by the backward movement of lower teeth and forward movement of upper teeth

Know more about forsus spring appliance.


Rubber bands are the elastic made components for braces that are used to put extra force move to the tooth for orthodontic tooth movement.

There are various types of elastic bands such as inter-arch rubber bands, ligatures, and power chains.

Interarch elastics can be used to correct protruded teeth, retruded teeth, overbite, or open bite. On the other hand, you get ligatures to hold and protect the brackets.

It may hurt you a little bit for the first few days after you start wearing it. But, it goes away with time.

You can choose colorful rubber bands if you want. However, be careful before picking up the color so that your teeth don’t look ugly,

Usually, you have to change the rubber bands a few times a day. In the case of ligatures, you can change it to every appointment with your orthodontist.

You have to wear rubber bands regularly to get the best outcome. However, you must be cautious of your food and oral hygiene.