Reaching the end of orthodontic treatment is a happy movement for every patient. Not only are they free from the adjustment pains and discomforts, but they also have a greater variety of foods items to enjoy. But before you’re completely done with your treatment, your orthodontist will recommend wearing power chain braces to put an end to the gaps between your teeth. 

You must be wondering what power chains are? And why do I need them? Let’s learn in this article what the power chain on braces is, what makes you a candidate, and the best ways to care for your mouth when undergoing this treatment. 

 There are several types of braces to choose from. Power chains are combined with the brackets already attached to your teeth. Power chains on orthodontic braces work effectively because they provide more force and pressure to move the teeth than brackets and ligatures provide. When you combine braces and power chains, you can expect effective results in a short amount of time.  

What are power chains?

Power chains are strings of elastics connected together and help close the gaps between teeth. Most of the time, they are made from an elastic material, but in some cases, metal twists also become the material of choice. 

 Traditional elastics fit over individual brackets separately, whereas power chains tie the brackets. An uninterrupted band is formed by these chains that run over the set of teeth. Your orthodontist may place a power chain on a few of your teeth, and the rest will have typical elastics around the braces brackets. This is done to treat several dental issues simultaneously. 

What do power chains do?

Typically power chains are used to close the space between teeth. They can either be used on already spaced teeth or the gap that arises after tooth extraction. Power chains exert more pressure than provided by brackets and arch wires, making it easy to speed up the treatment process.   

Power chains can address multiple oral issues effectively, including:

  • Correcting crooked teeth
  • Fixing misalignments
  • Rotating teeth
  • Malocclusions
  • Improving dental midline 

Types of power chains for braces

 Power chains and braces don’t comply with the one-size-fits-all setting, and this is because each patient has a different issue that needs to be addressed differently. Patients’ requirements will help decide the spaces between links on the power chain. The diameters between each loop’s center differ and regulate which bracket the loop attaches onto.  

Your orthodontist will best determine the type that suits your needs. Several types of chains are available, and there are several more options within each option. 

In general, there are three common types of power chains for braces, including:

  • Closed: This chain type fixes at every bracket. Because no spaces exist between the rings. Each ring is immediately connected to the next ring in the power chain.  
  • Short: Each ring in this type of power chain is segregated by a minor distance. A short chain attaches to an alternate bracket. 
  • Long: This chain has rings separated by very long distances connected to every third bracket.

The type of chain that your provider selects will comply with your treatment plan. Maybe you’ll wear different chains at various treatment stages. 

Are there any associated risks?

 The pressure that power chains exert fades away over time which can be due to the following reasons. 

  • power chain type
  • material used
  • teeth movement due to eating or other things
  • internal factors of the mouth such as moisture, temperature, etc.

Due to the above factors, your orthodontist will change your power chain from time to time.  

Generally speaking, the risk and side effects of wearing power chains are the same as braces. Which are:

  • Gum disease: Food particles can accumulate around the braces. If you fail to get rid of them with proper oral hygiene, plaque can build up. This, in return, can cause swelling and pain in your gums. 
  • Tooth decay: If plaque forms, it can also result in tooth decay. Tooth decay may only stay in its initial demineralization stage or worsen to a cavity. 
  • Short tooth roots: The roots of your teeth keep them tight in the jaw. Once you wear braces, your teeth start moving slowly. This can cause your tooth roots to shorten, resulting in unstable teeth.  
  • Treatment reversal: Braces and power chains help teeth to move in new correct positions. However, if you fail to wear a retainer after removing braces, your teeth may move back to their original positions.  

Are power chain braces painful?

During the braces treatment, you’ll occasionally visit your dentist for adjustments. Your doctor will tighten the wire that runs through your bracket during the appointment. This is done to add more pressure to the teeth, so they move into the correct positions. 

You may also wear a new power chain during the visit, or the existing one will be adjusted. The ligatures in your brackets will be replaced with power chain rings.  

Irritation and soreness are common after braces adjustments and can also happen when a power chain is installed or replaced. But don’t worry. The pain will subside within a few days after the appointment. 

Over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol can help ease the discomfort due to braces or power chains. 

Who needs power chain braces?

People between the ages of 8-14 are most likely to get power chain braces. This is the best age to get this treatment because the body is still growing, and the teeth move faster and easier compared to adults.  

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t wear braces and power chains if you’re over 15. Many braces wearers with power chains are 20+  

Power chains can be used for several orthodontic treatments. They are most commonly used to bridge the teeth gaps and make sure your teeth have appropriate space between them. They can also help ensure the teeth and jaw are in correct alignment. 

The oral condition of each patient best answers the question of who needs power chains. Your dentist will examine your teeth and jaw alignment to find out if you need simple braces or ones with power chains. 

How long will I need to wear power chains?

 Just like you may think about the duration of orthodontic braces treatment, the time duration for wearing chains depends on each individual. The total treatment length will be different for each patient. 

 For example, your dentist will recommend you wear power chains for 8 months while your friend may only wear them for just 5 weeks.  

Sometimes when the power chains have played their role in the braces treatment, such as closing the gaps between teeth, the doctor may still recommend keeping them on so as to stop the teeth from reverting, resulting in a gap. Here you can think of the power chains working similar to a retainer. 

Power chain colors

 Power chains come with the same choice of colors as normal ligatures. Your orthodontist can advise on what color will best suit your lifestyle, but you have a complete say in what color you want to wear. 

But keep in mind that the foods and drinks you consume can stain your power chains and alter their color. Chains with silver or smoked color are the least affected by stains.  

 If, for instance, your power chains are stained, you shouldn’t worry too much about them. On your next visit, you can replace the whole set with a new one. 

How to care for your power chains?

 For a smooth treatment, it’s important to take care of your braces and power chains. Here are some tips for your benefit:

Brushing your teeth after eating

Food particles can accumulate around your braces and power chain resulting in plaque buildup. It’s best to brush after every meal. But if it is not possible to brush every time, then at least thoroughly rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash if available. 

Brush gently

Only use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Gently brush your teeth to minimize strain on braces and power chains. 

Flossing

Flossing doesn’t only remove food stuck between your teeth; it also helps clear those sticky intruders from your braces and power chain. A small but helpful tool – the floss threader makes flossing with braces easy. 

Rinsing the mouth

After brushing and flossing, swishing water thoroughly in your mouth can help remove any annoying stuck food particles. Water or fluoride-based rinse is a good choice. 

Check your braces in the mirror

After your teeth cleaning regime, carefully scan your braces and power chain in the mirror. See if you find any damaged or loose ends. 

Avoid certain food types

Some food items can extensively damage your braces and power chain. So it’s best to avoid them and look for alternatives. 

  • Sticky foods can get lodged in braces and power chains.
  • Biting into hard food items like corn on the cob or carrots can break your braces or power chain. 
  • High sugar foods can aid the accumulation of plaque. 

What to do if your braces power chain breaks

 The breakage of a power chain is a clear possibility and can occur anywhere on the chain. You may find the break when you’re brushing or flossing your teeth.  

If this happens, call your orthodontist right away. This is important to ensure your treatment is going in the right direction, as a break can impact the effectiveness of the power chain.