While there are differences between traditional braces and Invisalign clear aligners therapy, there are many similarities too. One of the similarities is that we use elastics, or rubber bands, to move a group of teeth relative to another group of teeth.
The most common use of elastics in orthodontics is to treat an overbite. With braces, we hook rubber bands to the braces on the upper corner teeth (cuspids/canines) and stretch the bands down and back to the lower molars to move the bottom teeth forward.
Because there are no hooks on Invisalign, we bond mini-buttons or make a notch in the aligner, so the rubber bands have something to hook on to.
The advantage with Invisalign is that I can put on the elastics on the first day or at the first follow-up visit, instead of waiting six or eight months to use them like with braces. As a result, we can accomplish the desired movement sooner, which lessens treatment time.
Elastics can also be used to treat an underbite to pull the upper teeth forward. This is harder to do with braces because the angle of the pull affects the arch form and angle of the bite. With Invisalign being more rigid, there are fewer side effects
With all of the advanced technology, it is amazing how these mighty little rubber bands—typically used four to six months depending on the degree of the overbite or underbite—play an integral role in orthodontics.