What to Do About a Loose Orthodontic Band

Orthodontic bands are small stainless steel rings that are temporarily cemented to the first and second molars during orthodontic treatment. It is common for them to become loose from time to time.

A multi-colored rubber band
Sven Krobot / EyeEm/Getty

What Causes Orthodontic Bands to Become Loose?

Orthodontic bands are secured to the tooth temporarily with a cement designed specifically for orthodontic bands. Because the cement is designed to be easily removed, orthodontic bands can loosen fairly easily. Situations that cause an orthodontic band to dislodge include:

  • Pressure on the band from chewing hard foods
  • Consumption of sticky candies 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 arising from the movement of the teeth and how they fit together

Dealing With Loose Orthodontic Bands

Call your orthodontist or dentist when an orthodontic band becomes loose. 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, try one of several different temporary self-help remedies:

  • 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. After 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.

Report loose brackets or loose bands to your orthodontist as soon as you can—preferably on the same day. 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, consult with your orthodontist.

2 Sources
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  1. Millett DT, Glenny AM, Mattick RC, Hickman J, Mandall NA. Adhesives for fixed orthodontic bands. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;10:CD004485. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004485.pub4

  2. Dianiskova S, Calzolari C, Migliorati M, et al. Tooth loss caused by displaced elastic during simple preprosthetic orthodontic treatment. World J Clin Cases. 2016;4(9):285-9. doi:10.12998/wjcc.v4.i9.285

By Shawn Watson
Shawn Watson is an orthodontic dental assistant and writer with over 10 years of experience working in the field of dentistry.