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What Are Power Chain Braces?

Power chain braces are a welcome alternative to traditional braces. Learn why they might be used and what you can expect when you need to wear them.

Last updated on

December 22, 2023

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What Are Power Chain Braces?

Brushing your teeth and flossing is important to maintaining proper oral health, but it’s also important to make sure your teeth are straight and in proper alignment. While straight teeth might not benefit your overall health, they do lead to improved confidence and sense of self.

There are many options in terms of straightening your teeth, but traditional metal braces are one of the most common. However, a variation of traditional braces called power chain braces can be used to apply additional force that regular braces might not be able to match.

Below is everything to know about power chains, as well as some other options for restoring the appearance of your teeth. Read on!

What Are Power Chains?

With traditional braces, tiny elastic bands called ligatures help hold the metal wire of your braces in place within their brackets. Each bracket gets its own ligature with traditional braces. Those elastics are the colorful portions that you’d see on regular braces.

But with a power chain, these are made up of many connected elastic rings. This replaces the individual elastic ligatures and connects several brackets together. It gives the braces a more chain-like, colorful appearance while also enhancing the “power” of the braces themselves (hence the name).

Power chains can sometimes be used on all teeth or sometimes are placed on a few teeth paired with traditional braces. They exert more force than traditional brackets and wires to speed up the treatment process.

What Are the Benefits of Power Chains?

Power chains aren’t as common as traditional wires, but there are some major benefits to them, including things like:

Higher Force Exertion

Power chains are stronger than individual ligatures, which can help to speed up the alignment process, especially in areas where teeth have just been extracted or where teeth are severely crooked. 

Easy To Apply

Power chains are easy to apply because the row of O-chains are continuous and stretched to fit around each bracket on your teeth. This is an easier application process for the orthodontist as opposed to attaching individual brackets and ligatures.

Power chains are distributed on a spool, which makes it easier for a doctor to cut the length of a power chain to whatever need or preference you need.

Versatility

Power chains are also great because they can expand the usage of traditional braces and restore your mouth to its former glory. 

For one, power chains can close spaces between teeth, such as gaps that you’d see due to a tooth extraction. Additionally, these can be used to promote even spacing between your teeth while also aligning crooked teeth.

Power bands can also be used to rotate teeth that might be facing the wrong direction and can help correct a dental midline. 

Some teeth might have a power band, while some might use individual ligatures. In this way, your dentist can work to address different treatments that you might need to fix various areas of your mouth.

Power bands can help with:

  • Misalignments
  • Malocclusions
  • Rotating teeth
  • Midline deviation
  • Crooked teeth

Potential Disadvantages of Power Chains

While power chains might be recommended by your orthodontist to help you overcome a wide range of different dental abnormalities, they do come with their share of risks and drawbacks.

Their Power Diminishes Over Time

With great power comes great responsibility, and power chains might not live up to the task for as long as you might want. Over time, the efficacy of these devices dwindles because of a range of factors, including the type of chain and material it’s made of, movement from chewing or shifting of your teeth, and environmental factors like temperature and moisture in your mouth.

Power chains also might break a bit more easily than wires just due to the nature of their material. Your orthodontist will probably need to frequently adjust or replace your power chain.

Increased Risk of Dental Health Problems

Both power chains and traditional braces might cause some dental problems, including things like:

  • Tooth decay: Plaque build-up on the teeth can cause the outer layer of enamel to wear away and the underlying structures to become infected. This plaque can build up more easily with braces because it can be more challenging to effectively clean the teeth around these devices.
  • Gum disease: Food can easily get trapped around your braces, and if these are not cleared from brushing and flossing, it can cause plaque to form. This can irritate and inflame your gums, leading to gingivitis or gum disease that can feel painful and uncomfortable.
  • Shorter tooth roots: Roots are what hold your teeth into your jaw. Braces gradually move your teeth over time, which can shorten your roots compared to people who do not have braces. This might make your teeth less stable and more prone to becoming loose. This also means they can easily shift back into their original position, which emphasizes the importance of retainers.

What To Expect When Wearing Power Chains

Before you get your power chains placed, you’ll have a consultation with an orthodontist. During this visit, you’ll get X-rays taken as well as examinations of your mouth to see if power chains are the best course of treatment for your circumstances. From there, your dentist will schedule an appointment to actually place them.

Most people need to wear braces for about one to three years, depending on the severity of their crooked teeth or malocclusion. Some people might also need to wear power chains for only a small portion of this time. Others might need to wear these chains for the entirety of their treatment.

You won’t be able to eat certain foods while you have braces, including sticky, hard, or chewy candy, popcorn, and other foods that can get stuck between braces, crunchy foods like hard crackers and pretzels, and tough foods like hard rolls or bagels. All of these can damage your braces and lengthen the amount of time that you need to wear them.

What Are the Different Types of Power Chains?

There are three main types of power chains that an orthodontist might recommend for you. This includes:

  • Closed: There is no space between the rings of the power chain, meaning that each one is linked together directly. This type of chain connects at every single bracket.
  • Short: Short power chains are separated by a short distance, meaning that they connect at every other bracket.
  • Long: This type of power chain is separated by an even longer bracket, so the power chains connect at every third bracket.

The type you need is dependent on your specific treatment plan, and you might even need a combination of all three at some point throughout your alignment journey.

How To Take Care of Power Chains

Power chain and braces care is essential to eliminate any roadblocks that can otherwise extend the amount of time you might need to wear your power chains. There are a few tips and tricks for making the most out of your treatment plan.

  • Brush gently: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently in order to reduce stress on the elastic bands and the brackets themselves.
  • Brush frequently: You should brush your teeth after every meal to avoid plaque from building up around your braces. If you’re in a place where you can’t brush, try to at least rinse your mouth with water.
  • Floss: While your braces won’t let you floss between your teeth anymore, flossing is still necessary for getting stubborn bits of food out from your braces and power chain. You can get a tool called a floss threader to make it easier to get in between your teeth with braces.
  • Monitor your braces: Examine your braces in the mirror often to check for damage, breaks, or any other abnormal changes.

What if My Power Chain Breaks?

It’s possible for a power chain to break in any area along the chain. You’ll want to call your orthodontist as soon as you can so that you can go in and get it fixed up. Waiting too long can have an effect on your treatment plan, as it might impact the effectiveness of the braces. Don’t worry: It shouldn’t take them long to replace your chain if needed.

How Much Do Power Chains Cost?

Power chains and braces are often considered cosmetic procedures by most insurance companies in the sense that they serve to enhance the appearance of your teeth and don’t prevent or treat underlying conditions. For that reason, many insurance companies opt not to cover the cost of braces and power chains.

Braces and alignment alternatives can be extremely expensive procedures that are nearly impossible to afford out of pocket. And even for half of the population that does have dental coverage, it can be difficult to get proper care because of deductibles, premiums, and preferred network providers.

Flossy breaks away from insurance to bring you a pay-as-you-go dental service where you only pay for the procedures you receive. We can save you up to 50% on the cost of common dental treatments, from routine cleanings to braces, all without premiums, monthly dues, or membership fees.

We have very strict criteria that all of our participating dentists must meet to ensure you receive only the best care. Beyond that, we can even help you save on things like whitening or braces that don’t normally get covered under traditional insurance in the first place.

Price shouldn’t stop you from getting the dental care you want or need. Call a dentist in your city and discover the Flossy difference.

Who Needs Power Chains?

Why might some people need power chains while others get away with just using traditional braces? Power chains can be used in a wide variety of situations, but they are mostly used for people with gaps in their teeth to help close this empty space quickly and effectively.

With that said, power chains might sometimes be used to align your jaw or teeth in the case of an underbite or an overbite. In general, power chains are just a little bit more time effective compared to traditional braces. But your dentist will evaluate and decide whether or not you need them.

In Conclusion

Power chains are a variation of traditional braces that use elastic bands rather than traditional metal wires to help pull your teeth together. They tend to work a little bit more quickly than traditional braces and are most often used to close gaps between teeth.

Power chains have a higher force exertion, are versatile, and are easy to apply. While they still have some of the same drawbacks as traditional braces, these are commonly used by orthodontists to help address crooked teeth, gaps, malocclusion, and more.

Power chains can cost a lot of money because they are often not covered by dental insurance. No insurance? No problem. Flossy is a pay-as-you-go service that can save you up to 50% on common dental treatments like braces. With the Flossy App, you can get started today without a waiting period.

Sources:

Malocclusion: Classes, Definition & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic

Tooth Decay | MedlinePlus

Periodontal Disease | Oral Health Conditions | Division of Oral Health | CDC

Dental coverage, access & outcomes | ADA

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