kid smiling after having power chain braces removed

What Are Power Chain Braces?

Power chain braces are connected elastic ligatures that are often used to close spaces between teeth during orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists prefer them for moving teeth quickly, especially in cases where permanent teeth have been extracted. This method typically uses a row of connected elastic O-rings that are attached to the bracket, causing uniform tension over several teeth. The tension facilitates a closing of the space between teeth or groups of teeth and is typically used toward the end of treatment. So in essence, power chain braces are not technically braces, but connected ligatures that are used in place of single elastics.


Traditional braces are still the most common way to straighten teeth, and the American Association of Orthodontists reports that nearly four million Americans are wearing them. Braces are simple – brackets are placed on the fronts of the teeth and an archwire runs through the brackets. Single elastics or ligatures are placed around the perimeter of the bracket securing the archwire. The bands need to be changed or adjusted at monthly appointments as the teeth continue to move. Toward the end of treatment, power chain braces may be used to address spaces that cannot be closed with single elastic ligatures.

According to the Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, closing space between teeth is one of the most challenging procedures that an orthodontist faces. Your orthodontist knows that biomechanics are essential to achieving the goal of a healthy mouth and satisfying smile. Standard braces use continuous light force to straighten teeth, but that isn't always enough. Power chain braces provide sliding friction mechanics between the bracket and the wire running through each bracket. This method exerts significantly more force without putting intense pressure on the teeth, thereby keeping discomfort to a minimum. It also moves teeth quickly, and will often be left on after the space is closed to prevent the teeth from moving back.

Mouth Care During Treatment

Power chain braces typically take about six weeks to be effective, though each case is unique. It's important to properly care for your mouth during this time. Avoid hard or sticky foods that can cause the brackets, wires or ligatures to break, as this will delay treatment and require extra visits beyond the monthly checkups. Pain relief may be needed from time to time especially after adjustments. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen taken as directed for a few days should be sufficient in most cases.

Since cleaning around brackets, elastics and power chain ligatures is more difficult than just cleaning teeth, oral hygiene is perhaps the most important aspect of care. Food and plaque can get trapped easily, so frequent cleaning is essential.

Orthodontics treatment is evolving to include several options for properly aligning teeth, including traditional brackets, power chains and even removable aligners. Whatever method your orthodontist prefers, in the end you'll have a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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