Using Rubber Bands for Braces to Fix a Gap Between Front Teeth: My Personal How-To Guide
I have had a love/hate relationship with the gap in my front teeth for as long as I can remember. I have alternately detested, appreciated, but mostly just tolerated my gap. I have always found gaps between the front teeth of others to be awesome and cool. But when I looked at my own gap…well, it just depended on the day how I felt about it. I didn't want perfect teCredit: Fidelioeth, I just wasn't sure how I felt about a gap between teeth. Before my wedding I decided I wanted to close my front teeth gap, so I used an old school method from years ago after my braces were removed. I wore orthodontic rubber bands. It worked then and it works now. For those who want to know how I closed the gap between my teeth, this is a how-to guide, complete with before and after pictures.
What are Orthodontic Rubber Bands and How Do They Close the Gap Between Front Teeth?
Basically, orthodontic rubber bands are rubber bands for braces. They are small elastics designed to be worn with an orthodontic appliance (i.e. braces) and assist with moving your teeth. When used alone, in this case to close a gap between teeth, the rubber band is literally the instrument responsible for moving your teeth. It provides the tension needed to pull the teeth together. The braces rubber bands can be made from latex or non-latex material so there are options for those allergic to latex. Elastics come in different sizes (i.e. 1/8, 3/16, ¼ inch).
Where Do I Get Braces Rubber Bands and How Much Do They Cost?
Braces rubber bands can be purchased online at a variey of price points. I've seen them selling for $39 or more. There is no reason to pay that much. They can be purchased for $5-$10.
Amazon Price: $5.99 $2.41 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 2, 2016)
How do I Wear the Braces Rubber Bands on My Teeth?
When going this route to close a gap between front teeth, I have found that people make the mistake of wearing the rubber bands the wrong way causing discomfort such as cut or bleeding gums. Cut or bleeding gums should NEVER happen because the rubber bands should NOT be sitting at your gum line. Instead, wear the braces rubber bands at or near the middle of your two front teeth, halfway to your gum line. Getting the rubber band to sit at the right place may take some practice. You may find that it rides up, or inches its way down and slips off. Each person finds the ideal place on their teeth for it to sit.
How Long Do I Wear the Braces Rubber Bands Each Day?
I modeled the length of time I wore the orthodontic rubber bands on my teeth after how long I wore them when I had braces years ago, which was initially wearing them 24 hours a day. I took them off to eat or brush. After achieving my goal of closing the gap between my front teeth using only the braces rubber bands, I wore (and as of this writing still wear) the rubber bands at night to maintain the effect. I found that when I first started, the length of time I wore the bands each day directly impacted the speed at which results were seen.
Will Wearing the Braces Rubber Bands Hurt?
Credit: stuartpilbrow: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26604660@N08/3362615141/When you first start wearing the rubber bands your teeth may become sensitive and sore to the touch. This is a sign that the teeth are moving, and that’s a good thing because that’s what you want, right? When my teeth became sore, it was a familiar feeling because the same thing happened when I wore braces, so I was not alarmed or surprised. As you continue to wear the rubber bands your teeth should become used to the pressure and the soreness will go away. If your teeth do become too sensitive for you, don’t torture yourself! Take them off and take a break for a bit. Give yourself a day or so and when you put them back on, it shouldn’t be as sensitive or sore at all.
How Long Does It Take Before the Braces Rubber Bands Closes the Gap in Your Teeth?
This is a little difficult to predict because I am writing from personal experience and found that it depended on many factors such as the size of the gap between teeth, the rubber bands used, how long they were worn, etc. Personally speaking, I had a sizable gap and found a noticeable difference after a few days. I wasn’t even all that consistent at first with wearing it because I took it off for two days due to sensitivity. When all is said and done it took about three weeks to close the gap in my teeth. I now have a tiny, tiny, gap, which is how I like my smile the best.
What Size Braces Rubber Band Is Right For Me?
As I am writing from personal experience, it is difficult to make absolute recommendations. As mentioned above, the rubber bands for braces come in different sizes. I have found that the smaller bands are better for small gaps and the larger bands for large gaps.
Once the Gap Between My Front Teeth is Closed, How Do I Maintain The Result?
It is important to note that for many, myself included, using braces rubber bands to fix gap teeth is NOT a permanent solution. I know, disappointing, right? If you are someone for whom this is once and done, then good for you! However, the reality is that without maintenance, your teeth will most likely begin to migrate back to their original positions. I learned this lesson years ago after my braces were removed. Almost immediately the gap started coming back. The follow up retainer helped me maintain my desired results, but I had to wear it every day or the gap returned. Once I lost the retainer I decided to try to love my Credit: Orangeacid:http://www.flickr.com/photos/71753457@N00/2292315767gap.
Another thing to note is that using this method to close a gap in teeth, especially front teeth may result in two smaller gaps on either side of your front teeth. After all, the space that you removed between the front teeth has to go somewhere! You have to decide if the trade-off is worth it. It was for me.
As far as your options, there are quite a few. If you like using the braces rubber bands on your teeth, continue to use them at night to maintain your results. After a while you will get a feel for what works for you in terms of the length of time to wear them to maintain your look. Some other options include (but are not limited to) visiting an orthodontist and having a retainer created to maintain your smile (this could be cheaper than braces); having dental bonding, or getting crowns or veneers. Each of these options can be used instead of the braces rubber band method to close a gap in teeth, and each has advantages and disadvantages.
- It may take some practice getting used to putting the braces rubber bands on your teeth.
- I found that my tongue naturally pushes against the back of my teeth, contributing, I believe, to the gap. This will probably sounds silly, but I trained myself to keep the tip of my tongue curled at night when I sleep so I don’t push against my teeth. I found it helps keep my gap closed.
- I do NOT recommend this method for those with very large gaps like Michael Strahan (and BTW I LOVE his gap. He should never, ever change it. It makes him who he is). I think my gap is sizeable. I personally wouldn’t go much larger when using the braces rubber band method.
- Refresh the braces rubber bands as they will start losing elasticity. I have found that the latex bands retain elasticity longer than the non-latex ones.
How Safe is it for Me to Use Rubber Bands for Braces to Close a Gap Between Teeth?
I was cautious when doing this and you should exercise caution as well. I decided to do this because I was familiar with how it felt and how it would work due to past experience with braces. Dentists, I would bet, would not be happy with me doing this and would probably tell me that horrible things could happen. And I’m sure it’s all true. However, what’s also true is that years ago my parents spent thousands of dollars on my teeth and as soon as the braces came off, or as soon as I stopped wearing my retainer the gap started to return. It’s also my truth that using the rubber bands for braces performed the same function as the braces did for less than $10! My teeth are healthy. I am careful. I feel comfortable with it. Each person has to come to his/her own conclusion.
How About a Before and After Picture?
Okay. Here you go! The hairstyles are different, but the pictures are only two months apart. Let me know if you use this method and how it works for you.
Credit: Kim O.