molar bands

Orthodontic Molar Bands: The Ultimate Guide for 2024

molar bands

If you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered molar bands. They are a type of orthodontic appliance that fits around the molars, providing an anchor for braces wires, and elastics. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about them, from their purpose to their potential drawbacks.

What Are Molar Bands?

They are metal rings that are placed around the molars, the large teeth at the back of the mouth. They are typically made of stainless steel or titanium and come in a variety of sizes to fit different teeth. They have small hooks or cleats on them that help secure the wires and elastics that make up the braces.

Types of Molar Bands

There are two main types: full bands and partial bands. Full bands cover the entire tooth, while partial bands cover only part of the tooth. Partial bands are sometimes used when only a portion of the tooth needs to be moved, or when there isn’t enough room in the mouth for a full band.

Molar Bands with Cleats

Some molar bands come with cleats, which are small hooks or arms that extend from the band. Cleats are used to attach elastic bands to the braces, which helps move the teeth into the desired position. The use of cleats can help reduce the amount of force required to move the teeth, which can make treatment more comfortable.

Purpose of Molar Bands

The primary purpose is to provide an anchor for the braces wires and elastics. By attaching to the molars, the wires and elastics can exert force on the other teeth to move them into the desired position. They also help prevent the molars from rotating or shifting during treatment.

Are Molar Bands Necessary for Braces?

While molar bands are a common component of braces, they are not always necessary. In some cases, other appliances, such as molar tubes or brackets, can be used instead. However, molar bands are often preferred because they provide a more secure anchor for the braces, which can help speed up treatment time.

Molar Bands Pain and Discomfort

One of the most common complaints is that they can be uncomfortable, especially when they are first placed. Many people report feeling soreness or pressure in their molars after the bands are applied. This discomfort usually lasts for a few days and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.

Molar Bands Digging into Gums

Another potential issue is that they can sometimes dig into the gums. This can cause soreness, irritation, and even small cuts or sores. If you experience this problem, talk to your orthodontist. They may be able to adjust the bands to make them more comfortable.

Molar Bands Hurting Tongue

In some cases, the hooks or cleats on molar bands can rub against the tongue, causing soreness or discomfort. This can be managed with orthodontic wax, which can be applied to the hooks to create a smooth surface. Your orthodontist can provide you with this wax and show you how to use it.

Molar Bands Removal

They are typically removed at the end of orthodontic treatment, along with the rest of the braces. Removal is usually quick and painless, although you may experience some pressure or discomfort as the bands are pried off.

molar band removal

How Long Do Molar Bands Hurt?

They can cause discomfort for a few days after they are placed. This discomfort usually goes away on its own and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.

Molar bands vs. molar tubes

When it comes to orthodontic treatment, molar bands, and molar tubes are two commonly used methods for attaching braces to the molars. While both serve the same purpose of holding the archwire in place, there are some key differences between the two.

Molar bands are made of metal and are fitted around the entire tooth. They are secured with dental cement and usually have cleats or hooks that can hold the archwire in place. They are typically used in cases where there is not enough space for a molar tube or if the tooth has a more irregular shape that makes it difficult to attach a tube.

Molar tubes, on the other hand, are small metal cylinders that are cemented to the tooth. They have a slot that can hold the archwire, and some tubes also have hooks for elastic bands. Molar tubes are often preferred over bands because they are smaller and more comfortable for the patient. They also allow for easier cleaning of the tooth and can be removed more easily than bands.

When it comes to effectiveness, both can provide excellent results. However, some patients may experience more discomfort with molar bands, as they can dig into the gums or rub against the tongue. Molar tubes are generally considered to be more comfortable, although they may not be suitable for every patient.

Ultimately, the decision will depend on the specific needs and preferences of the patient, as well as the recommendations of the orthodontist. In some cases, both methods may be used together to achieve the best results.

In conclusion, while two methods are common in orthodontic treatment, they have some key differences in terms of their design, comfort level, and suitability for different cases. Your orthodontist can help you determine which method is best for your individual needs and goals.

How long do molar bands stay on?

The duration of time varies depending on the patient’s orthodontic treatment plan. In general, molar bands are typically left on for the duration of the braces treatment, which can range from 18 to 36 months.

However, some patients may require longer treatment times, and in those cases, the molar bands may need to stay on for longer as well. It’s important to follow the orthodontist’s recommendations to ensure the best possible outcome for the treatment.

Additionally, the orthodontist may need to adjust or replace the molar bands during treatment if they become loose or if there are any other issues. It’s important to keep up with regular appointments and to report any discomfort or issues to the orthodontist as soon as possible.

Overall, the length of time will vary based on the individual patient’s needs and treatment plan. The orthodontist will be able to provide specific information and guidance regarding how long they will need to stay on for each patient.

Does getting molar bands removed hurt?

Getting molar bands removed should not hurt if done properly by a trained orthodontist. However, some patients may experience some discomfort or pressure during the removal process, especially if the bands have been on for a long time.

The orthodontist will use a special instrument called a band remover to gently loosen and remove the bands. The process should be relatively quick and painless, but if the bands have been on for a long time, the removal process may take longer and require more effort. In some cases, the orthodontist may need to use a dental drill to remove any remaining cement or adhesive.

After the bands are removed, the patient may experience some soreness or sensitivity in the teeth and gums, but this should subside within a few days. It is important to continue to follow good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing regularly, to keep the teeth and gums healthy.

If the patient experiences any persistent pain or discomfort after the molar bands have been removed, they should contact their orthodontist for further evaluation.

plain molar bands

Pain Relief Tips

Here are some useful tips to deal with molar band pain:

  • Avoid hard, sticky and crunchy foods
  • Apply topical oral medication
  • Take over-the-counter medication
  • Use a soft or extra-soft bristle toothbrush
  • Use warm saltwater rinses


Does everyone with braces get molar bands?

No, not everyone with braces gets molar bands. Molar bands are typically used in cases where the orthodontist needs to apply force to the back teeth, such as in cases of severe overcrowding or to correct a misaligned bite. In some cases, they may be used on other teeth as well, but this varies depending on the individual’s orthodontic needs. The decision is based on the orthodontist’s assessment of the patient’s specific needs and the best course of treatment for achieving their desired outcome.

What are the side effects of molar bands?

While molar bands are an essential part of orthodontic treatment, there can be some side effects associated with their use. Some common side effects include:

  • Pain and discomfort: Patients may experience pain or discomfort for a few days after getting molar bands placed or adjusted. This discomfort is usually manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Irritation to gums and tongue: The edges of them may irritate the gums and tongue, causing soreness or ulcers.
  • Difficulty eating: They can make it challenging to eat certain foods, particularly hard or sticky foods, as they can get stuck in the bands.
  • Decay or discoloration: They can trap food and bacteria, leading to decay or discoloration of the teeth.
  • Allergic reactions: In rare cases, patients may have an allergic reaction to the metal used in the molar bands.

It is essential to follow good oral hygiene practices, such as regular brushing and flossing, to minimize the risk of side effects. If you experience severe pain or discomfort, contact your orthodontist immediately.

Can molar bands come off?

They are designed to stay in place throughout the entire orthodontic treatment period. However, it is possible for them to come off, especially if the patient consumes hard or sticky foods, or if the band was not fitted properly.

If they come off, it is important to contact the orthodontist as soon as possible. Leaving the band off can lead to teeth shifting out of place, prolonging the treatment time or causing other issues. The orthodontist may be able to reattach the band or provide an alternative solution to keep the treatment on track.

It is also important to note that if a molar band comes loose, it can cause discomfort or pain in the mouth. In some cases, the sharp edges of the band can even cut the soft tissues of the mouth. Therefore, it is crucial to get the band repaired or replaced as soon as possible to prevent any further complications.

In summary, while they are designed to stay in place, it is possible for them to come off. It is important to contact the orthodontist immediately if