What are power chains and how do they help orthodontic treatment?
A power chain is a key part of braces treatments in modern orthodontia. There are many different types of orthodontic treatment. The most common and affordable is metal braces with individual elastics around each bracket that help hold the archwire in place.
There are nearly 4 million people who wear this type of braces each year! Brackets are affixed to the front of the teeth, usually made from metal or ceramic, and then a wire is run through the brackets to do the work necessary during orthodontic treatment.
The overall first appointment is about an hour long to get braces put on. The archwire and elastics in turn apply gentle pressure on the teeth to help move them into place through the matrix of the jaw. Did you know that the jaw is not actually a solid bone?
It has a material that holds the teeth in place solidly, which is a matrix that allows the teeth to move into place and then fill in around them.
The individual elastics can also be used to help change your jaw alignment, which is why some brackets, particularly the ones on the eye teeth, have little posts on them. For instance, when correcting issues like overbites, you may have a set of elastics that attach to hooks on the molars and the eye teeth to help pull the front teeth back.
Power chains are a set of O-ring elastics that are all interlinked and can be used instead of or alongside the individual elastics. They are made from the same type of material as the individual elastics and also come in a variety of fun colors. They can also be used with ceramic brackets. In rare cases, a power chain might be made of metal that is twisted around the brackets.
You may hear them referred to as power chain braces. This is not really correct as they are the elastics that are attached to the brackets that form the braces along with the archwire. So while they are an important component, they are not going to be braces by themselves.
Power chains have the ability to do more work in less time so you can potentially get your braces off sooner. There is a fancy scientific reason for what the process is called – sliding friction.
The power chains come in a variety of thicknesses, also, ranging from what looks like linked chain to having nearly as much space between each link as the size of the link itself. These are called closed, short, and long styles. This means they would connect to each tooth, alternating teeth, or every third tooth, respectively.
They can also be used to help target areas of the teeth that need some additional pressure. Your orthodontist may use power chains at the end of treatment to help speed up closing spaces that haven’t been closed up yet.
A power chain can be used in a certain area while the rest of the teeth will have regular elastics looped around the brackets. This gives your orthodontist a wide variety of flexibility to correct dental issues, and create a custom treatment just for you.
You can think of wearing braces as having a few stages, and these are usually alignment, closing spaces, and finishing. Orthodontists might use power chains at the beginning of treatment, but that is not common.
They are often used in the closing spaces phase. For many, a power chain is used after the teeth are all in their proper arch, so now the orthodontist can focus on the major work such as moving the front teeth back to correct an overbite or closing gaps between teeth.
Just like regular elastics, power chains are typically changed out at every orthodontist visit, so you get a fresh set. That way, if you picked a fun color and want to change it to something else, or if you got some stains on the current ones, you will get a new power chain.
Now, you might think you can also choose the design of your power chain, but that is really determined by your orthodontist, depending on what you need to have done. The design – closed, short, or long – is what will move your teeth in a particular direction. And that means, unfortunately, that the type of power chain used is not something you get to pick.
You might wonder if they hurt more than regular elastics. The answer is no, they don’t. Your teeth will always be sore right after an adjustment, but having power chains does not make the discomfort any worse. Your orthodontist can help you with managing that discomfort, whether it is advising you to take an over the counter medication or eat soft foods, or some combination of things.
What types of issues do power chains help with?
Power chains are used most often to help quickly close space between teeth, like areas where a tooth was pulled or for places that have large gaps naturally. They also help with crooked teeth and malocclusions. There is no age limit that applies to using power chains. Some orthodontic appliances are better used on children, but in this case, there is not that kind of requirement.
How long are they used for?
The short answer is – it depends. The longer answer is every case is unique and so it is hard to say exactly how long you will need to have power chains on your braces, or even how long you will need to wear your braces.
Usually it will take about six weeks of using power chains to really take effect. The best way to answer this question is to ask your orthodontist. There are times that you will still wear power chains even after the need is gone because your orthodontist wants to be sure that your teeth stay put. This means that the power chain will act a lot like a retainer.
So to sum it up, some people will use power chains only for a few weeks, while other people will wear them for six months or even longer.
How do I care for power chains?
You will want to brush your teeth just like you would with regular elastics. You should brush your teeth after each meal and either floss or use a water irrigator daily to get any food particles out of the brackets and elastics.
Like with any kind of braces, you will definitely want to be sure to avoid anything like ice cubes or hard candy, or sticky candies like taffy or caramels.
Your orthodontist will be happy to guide you on how to eat foods like corn or apples to keep from breaking the wires and brackets. Be sure to also visit your dentist regularly to be able to get your teeth professionally cleaned.
You should also think about what might stain your elastics and power chains and choose your color accordingly. Foods and drinks with turmeric in them, coffee and tea, many sodas, and red wine will all have the ability to stain your elastics.
Choosing a dark color if you partake in these foods will help keep your elastics from showing stains. But, you should also keep in mind that these foods can also stain your teeth and while you have your brackets on, this can mean that the teeth under your brackets will be one color and the area around the brackets will be another color.
Avoiding foods in general that can stain while you have your braces on is a good idea.
Is a power chain more expensive?
The good news is that power chains are not usually more expensive than regular individual elastics are. What really determines your treatment cost is the amount of work that needs to be done to correct your dental issue, what type of braces you choose – i.e. ceramic, clear, traditional, aligners, etc., where you are located, how long you will need to wear your braces, and anything else you might need like a tooth extraction.
That’s not to say that power chains won’t be more expensive than individual elastics, but keep in mind that they are also likely to shorten treatment, and therefore your overall cost of orthodontic treatment will be reduced.
If you hear that your orthodontist wants to use power chains, this is good news! It means that your orthodontist is ready to do some significant work closing the gaps in your teeth or adjusting the overall alignment of your jaw.
They are supercharged links of O-ring elastics that can do a lot of work in a shorter amount of time than just brackets and elastics alone. They apply more pressure thanks to physics without making your jaw and teeth hurt more. And, they will make sure that you have the properly aligned teeth you want for the great smile you will love.
Just think – soon you will be able to have the most confident smile possible. A little care of them will mean that they don’t trap food particles and your teeth will stay healthy.
IVANOV Orthodontic Experts, 12866 Biscayne Blvd, North Miami, FL 33181 https://www.google.com/maps?cid=154326063970645489
Call us at (786) 540-1919 to schedule a free orthodontic exam.
Learn more about Braces and Invisalign at https://ivanovortho.com/
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