According to West Temple Orthodontics, different types of rubber bands are placed on braces. The small multicolored bands are called elastic ligatures and are wrapped around each of the braces to hold the wire in place. Interarch elastics are used to adjust overbites, underbites and crossbites by putting force on the teeth to hold them together.
West Temple Orthodontics states that the wire in braces is what straightens the teeth. The elastic ligatures that hold the wire in place are adjusted at each visit to the orthodontist. Straightening the teeth is considered the first phase in using braces to correct teeth, and can usually be accomplished in four to six months. The other phase involved is correcting the bite of the teeth using interarch elastics, which are inserted, removed and adjusted by the patient and have to be changed every four to six hours.
All elastic bands are typically worn all the time, including while sleeping. West Temple Orthodontics points out that elastics must be removed for brushing and flossing the teeth but can stay in while eating if preferred. Not wearing the elastic bands can delay the progress of treatment or result in mediocre results. Not wearing them as directed can also cause pain or discomfort due to the mouth not adjusting comfortably to the force the elastic bands exert on the teeth.