What Are Power Chain Elastomerics (Power Chain Braces)?

Dental braces are used to straighten crooked teeth and for bite correction. Power chain elastomerics are linked with a chain of elastic O-rings, rather than one individual O-ring on each bracket.

This article discusses types of power chain braces and their benefits, as well as proper maintenance for your braces.

Teenager with braces

Johnny Greig / Getty Images

What Are Power Chain Braces?

Traditional dental braces are made of individual brackets that are attached to each tooth and held together by a wire running across your teeth. The wire is secured to each bracket with individual O-rings or ligatures.

Power chain elastomerics secure the wire to your brackets with a chain of connected O-rings, rather than individual O-rings.

What Do Power Chain Braces Do?

There are several reasons your orthodontist might choose to use power chain elastomerics.

  • Exert more force: The primary purpose of power chain elastomerics is to increase the amount of pressure exerted on your teeth.
  • Easy to apply: Power chain elastomerics are relatively easy for your orthodontist to apply. The row of O-rings is continuous, and each O-ring is stretched to fit around the brackets on each of your teeth. Application of individual O-rings to each bracket can potentially be more time-consuming than using a power chain.
  • Multiple uses: Power chain elastomerics can be used for multiple movements, such as closing spaces, redistributing spaces, and de-rotating teeth. All these movements are essential to move your teeth to a good final position.

Power Chain Braces: Treatment Goals

Power chain braces are used for several types of treatment.

  • Closing gaps in teeth: Power chain elastomerics are commonly used to close gaps between teeth. Gaps might occur naturally, or during orthodontics treatment.
  • Promote even spacing: Power chain elastomerics can be used to create even spacing between your teeth. This is often done when the teeth need further dental procedures such as fillings, crowns, or veneers.
  • Aligning crooked teeth: Power chain elastomerics apply constant pressure to slowly bring crooked teeth back into alignment.
  • Rotating teeth: Over time, power chain elastomerics can be used to turn teeth that are rotated.
  • Bite correction: Power chain elastomerics can be used to correct the way you bite, or more specifically, the way your top and bottom teeth come together when your mouth is closed. Malocclusion, or misalignment of your teeth, can occur from habits during childhood such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting.

Risks and Side Effects of Power Chain Braces

As with any type of dental braces, there are risks and side effects associated with power chain braces. These include:

  • Gum disease and tooth decay: Having braces—whether or not they are attached with power chains—makes it more difficult to keep your teeth and gums clean. This can cause plaque to build up on your teeth and allow bacteria to enter your gums, which can lead to infection. Brushing several times a day can help reduce your risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Short tooth roots: Tooth roots keep your teeth anchored into the jaw. Applying pressure to your teeth, such as with power chain braces, can cause root resorption—or shortening of your tooth roots. However, this does not usually cause a problem for most people, and the process stops when your braces are removed.
  • Lost correction: As with any type of braces, teeth can shift out of place once your power chain braces are removed. Your orthodontist will likely have you wear a retainer for a period of time to help keep your teeth aligned after braces removal.
  • Pain: When you first get your braces put on, you're likely to experience some discomfort. However, pain and discomfort typically resolve within a week of having your braces put on, or after having them adjusted.
  • Ongoing adjustments: Power chain elastomerics require ongoing adjustments as your teeth move. Treatment varies by patient, but adjustments often occur every four to six weeks.

Who Is a Candidate for Power Chain Braces?

Age sometimes plays a role in the type of orthodontic treatment a person qualifies for. However, power chain braces can be used by people of any age.

Types of Power Chains for Braces

Different types of power chain elastomerics are used to address specific dental issues. There are three types of power chain braces: closed, short, and long.

  • Closed: O-rings attach to each tooth/bracket
  • Short: O-rings attach to every other tooth/bracket
  • Long: O-rings attach to every third tooth/bracket

Your orthodontist will help determine which type is best for you. This is usually based on what they are looking to adjust with your teeth.

Caring for Power Chain Braces

In order to ensure the best possible outcome from treatment, it's important to take proper care of your power chain elastomerics.

  • Brushing: Brush your teeth after you eat any food. Brush gently—aggressive brushing can damage your gums, remove the protective coating on your teeth, or damage your braces.
  • Flossing: It can be awkward the first few times you floss with braces, but keep at it. Food is more likely to get caught between your teeth when you have braces.
  • Rinsing: Rinse your mouth after brushing and flossing to remove any remaining pieces of food.
  • Inspecting your mouth: Check your power chain frequently in the mirror to monitor for breakage.
  • Avoiding certain foods: Power chain elastomerics can be damaged by certain types of food. Avoid foods that are hard, sticky, or very chewy. Avoid biting into foods with your front teeth whenever possible to protect your brackets.

If you notice damage to your power chain braces, call your orthodontist right away.

Summary

Power chain elastomerics are a type of orthodontic appliance that is linked with a chain of elastic O-rings. They are easy to apply and can serve multiple purposes. These elastomerics can also be used to fix a variety of tooth alignment issues, such as aligning crooked teeth, creating even spacing between teeth, fixing rotated teeth, and correcting malocclusions.

Power chain elastomerics can have some side effects, including bacterial buildup, root resorption, pain, and more. Taking proper care of your braces can help maximize your end result with hopefully minimal discomfort.

A Word From Verywell

Power chain elastomerics can be uncomfortable and might seem high-maintenance, but the end result of a beautiful, healthy smile is worth the temporary inconvenience. Take good care of your braces and power chain elastomerics, and contact your orthodontist with any concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How fast do rubber bands move teeth?

    Treatment time varies from person to person, but it often takes six months or more for rubber bands on braces to move your teeth.

  • How long do you wear power chain braces?

    Individual treatment times vary, but power chain braces are often worn for six months or more.

  • Is the power chain the last step for braces?

    Power chains are often used in later phases of treatment with braces.

  • Do power chains work faster?

    Power chains apply higher force on the teeth, which can decrease overall treatment time.

Was this page helpful?
5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Colgate-Palmolive Company. What are power chain braces?

  2. Exeter Orthodontics. Can braces cause cavities?. Updated April 21, 2021.

  3. Dindaroğlu F, Doğan S. Root resorption in orthodontics. Turk J Orthod. 2016;29(4):103-108. Doi:10.5152%2FTurkJOrthod.2016.16021

  4. Oakbrook Orthodontics. How long do braces hurt?. Updated December 22, 2020.

  5. Orthodontic Associates. Braces and power chains. Updated March 23, 2018.