Orthodontic ligatures are tiny rubber bands that tie the brackets and the wires together. They are a much needed part of your orthodontic system, because they help to evenly distribute the occlusal forces used to straighten your teeth. Without them, only part of the tension of the wire can actively align your teeth. Orthodontic ligatures used for ligation are usually hooked up to the brackets and tie the wire to the brackets, and can most often be found in the back, near the molars, or sometimes around the brackets themselves, but can be placed anywhere where extra pressure is needed, or where the wire needs to be tied down to affect the entire row of teeth.
Different kinds of orthodontic ligation
Orthodontic ligatures can be colourful, or can be completely transparent. Some patients prefer to have the orthodontic ligatures be as invisible as possible. Some patients prefer to have festive colours and draw attention to the beautified and well-kept braces. This is a question of personality, and the manufacturers of orthodontic ligatures have been clever enough to make many different types, to please all patients. Sometimes, the ligation materials are not elastics at all, but surgical steel power chains. These are large, flat linked chains that are attached to certain teeth, and are only necessary in certain cases, but are extremely difficult to do without if they do become necessary.
Self-ligating brackets and the orthodontic systems that rely on them are relatively new players in the orthodontic game, but are changing the face of orthodontry. They require specialised tools and knowledge, as they are a little bit different from traditional fixed braces. The difference is that the brackets have little trap doors that fix them more securely to the arch wire, thus they can transfer the full tension and force of the wire without the need for ligation. These braces are more expensive but also reported to be more comfortable by patients, and are arguably more aesthetically pleasing. Although the brackets are somewhat larger, the lack of elastics and extra bits still manages to win the hearts of most patients over.