What to do About a Loose Orthodontic Band

Close-up Of Multi Colored Rubber Band
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Orthodontic bands are small stainless steel rings that are temporarily cemented to the first and second molars during orthodontic treatment. It is very common to have an orthodontic band become loose from time to time, so learning what to do when your orthodontic bands come loose is very important.

What Causes Orthodontic Bands to Become Loose?

Orthodontic bands are secured to the tooth temporarily, with a cement designed for orthodontic bands.

Because the cement is designed to be easily removed, orthodontic bands can become loose fairly easily. Situations that cause an orthodontic band to become loose include:

  • Biting down on hard foods or candy
  • Eating sticky candy, such as caramel or toffee
  • A failed bond between the tooth and the band
  • Habits such as chewing ice or chewing on pens or pencils
  • A change in bite, due to the constant movement of the teeth and how they bite together

What You Should Do When Your Orthodontic Band Is Loose

The first thing you should do when you have an loose orthodontic band is call your orthodontist. Unlike a loose orthodontic bracket that stays attached to the wire when it becomes loose, a loose orthodontic band can lift off the tooth very easily because it is not generally attached to the archwire with an elastic or wire ligature. If the band comes off the tooth, you could swallow it or choke on it.
If your orthodontist is unable to see you the same day as your orthodontic band becomes loose, here is what you can do:

  • Try to lift the loose band off your tooth with your fingers, or a clean pair of tweezers.
  • Ask someone to remove the band for you by using the handle end of a toothbrush or a clean pair of tweezers to lift the band from the tooth. Once you remove the orthodontic band, place it into a small plastic bag and bring it with you to your next appointment.
  • If your gum becomes irritated because the archwire that was anchored to the orthodontic band is now rubbing against your gum, take a clean pair of toenail clippers and cut the wire as close as you can to the bracket on the tooth next to the molar that the orthodontic band was removed from. Place a small amount of orthodontic wax on any sharp ends.

Remember, it is very important to report any loose brackets or loose bands to your orthodontist as soon as possible. The longer your braces are loose or broken, the longer it will take for your orthodontic treatment to be completed. Knowing what you can and can't eat with your braces, and avoiding the bad habits listed above, will help to prevent loose orthodontic bands. If you have questions concerning your braces or want to know how to prevent damage to your braces, never hesitate to speak with your orthodontist.

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