The Truth About Your Tooth

Why Do Some Orthodontic Braces Have Thicker Ligatures?

Traditional braces are made up of different components. First, you have the brackets, which are cemented to your teeth. The brackets hold a metal arch wire, which is threaded through all the brackets and is used to hold teeth in their new positions. Then you have the ligatures, or elastic bands, which can come in different colors and are used to actively align teeth in new positions. However, you may notice that some patients have thicker ligatures—your dentist may even recommend some for your case. Read on to learn more about this type of orthodontic tool if you are getting traditional braces.

What Are Thicker Ligatures Called and What Are They For?

Thicker elastic ligatures are called power chains, and they connect multiple brackets instead of just wrapping around one bracket. They do a good job at closing spaces between multiple teeth since the ligatures are connected and have a uniform tension. Some orthodontists prefer power chains because they can move teeth quickly and more easily than other methods. One article found that closing spaces is one of the most difficult aspects of orthodontic treatment, so power chains can mitigate that difficulty for dental professionals.

Which Patients Usually Have Power Chains, Then?

If you have a lot of spaces between your teeth, then an orthodontist might opt for a power chain. They are often used for patients who have had tooth extractions since there will be a large gap to fill due to the missing tooth.

Do Power Chains Cause Soreness?

Like any aspect of your orthodontic treatment, you may experience some initial soreness when the ligatures are first put on the brackets and new forces are applied to your teeth. However, this soreness should fade and shouldn't cause any more discomfort than other adjustments at your orthodontic office. If you continue to have soreness, your orthodontist may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Do You Have to Wear Power Chains for the Entire Treatment?

Because power chains make changes rapidly, many patients only need to wear them for a few weeks. However, every patient is different—so some people may need to wear them much longer. The timing of a power chain will depend on your case as well, since some people only need to wear them in the early stages of treatment while others may only need them in the finishing stages of treatment.

What Is Oral Hygiene Like With a Power Chain?

As you know, brushing and flossing can be a little more difficult with braces since you need to brush well around brackets and thread floss between arch wires to get to the interproximal spaces. Because power chains are thicker, connected ligatures, it can be more challenging to clean around them. However, your dentist should have tools and floss threaders that can help you manage your hygiene habits. It's important to avoid sticky, hard foods, as these can get stuck in ligatures and even break them.

Talk with your dentist for more details.