Hygiene recommendations if your orthodontic treatment involves elastic bands

If you are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment, your regular appointments may have been disrupted during the recent COVID-19 restrictions.

While your treatment may be prolonged by clinic closures, it should not disrupt your overall orthodontic treatment if you take care of your appliance and ensure you follow the advice of your orthodontist. With the government and local health authorities advising not to touch your face or mouth, you may be wondering what you should do about your orthodontic elastic bands that must be changed regularly.

While there is no doubt that you should be limiting contact with your face and mouth as much as possible, particularly when need to leave the house for school or work, the reality is that this may be unavoidable during your orthodontic treatment.

In this article we will explain the importance of orthodontic elastic bands and how to ensure they are changed safely during this critical time.

What are elastic bands?

Elastic bands are used to align your bite. Made from medical grade latex, these rubber bands gently apply pressure to your teeth, gradually moving them into the desired position. This occurs in a specific direction, to ensure the essential movements take place.

How do you replace elastic bands?

This is different for everyone, depending on the severity and type of malocclusion. Your specialist orthodontist will demonstrate how to wear the elastics as well as how to replace them. These instructions will usually include attaching the rubber bands to hooks on your braces in a particular direction, that will help move your teeth into the correct position.

How often do you need to replace your orthodontic elastic bands?

You will need to wear your elastics for close to 24 hours a day, but may be removed while you eat and clean your teeth. We know this is a big commitment, however your full co-operation is required to get the best result. Your orthodontist will usually recommend replacing your rubber bands a few times per day, so the elastics do not lose their strength and elasticity. You can change your elastics after every meal, and before bed, that way you can get into a routine and won’t forget to change them.

What happens if you run out of elastics?

Your orthodontist will provide you with a large supply of elastics in a bag, with each bag usually holding 100 elastics. If your orthodontist’s clinic is closed or you are running low, contact your orthodontist who can help you source a fresh supply, by posting a few bags of elastics to you. It’s important to make sure you keep an eye on your stock and contact your orthodontist before you run out completely.

How to hygienically change your elastics during coronavirus

While it is always important to wash your hands before touching your face, this becomes even more important during a pandemic. Before removing your elastics, please ensure that you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and brush your teeth. If a sink is not available, ensure an alcohol-based hand sanitiser is used to ensure your hands do not have any bacteria on them.

What happens if I snap an elastic?

Don’t panic, this is a fairly common occurrence. Simply wash your hands, brush your teeth and change your elastics as soon as you can, to ensure your treatment continues to progress. A handy hint is to keep a spare bag of elastics in your bag to access on the go.

If you require elastics, wearing these rubber bands faithfully and correctly will be vital to the success of your treatment. If any appointments are cancelled, your orthodontist may need to change how much or the direction that you wear your elastics.

If you have any concerns about your teeth or how you are wearing your elastics during this time, just take a quick photo of your mouth with your elastics in and send it to your orthodontic practice. Your specialist orthodontist will know what to do and will be in contact with you to ensure that your treatment stays on track.

Click here for up-to-date coronavirus advice.

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