Here's a topic
that comes up frequently on our Metal Mouth Message Board:
changing your own ligatures (or powerchains).
say you ate some curry and now your ligatures ("o-rings")
are stained. They look yucky. You really want them to look
nice again. Hey, maybe you could go online and buy some
ligatures to change them yourself! After all, who wants to
walk around with yucky looking ligatures for weeks on end
until the next ortho appointment? How hard can it be?
Well, it's not so simple and it's not a good idea, according
to several orthodontists as well as a website that sells
Dr. Christopher Jernigan, DMD
of Columbia, South Carolina says, "Changing
ligatures yourself seems harmless but you could be adversely
affecting your treatment. When a ligature is used it
begins to stretch and "decay" (as well as discolor). At this
point the force applied to your teeth is "deactivating".
This is normal and healthy. Many times at an adjustment, all
we do is re-tie your ligatures. In effect, doing this
at home is actually reapplying new forces to your teeth not
under the supervision of an orthodontist. If things
were moving poorly at first then one could be making it
worse by re-ties at home. My advice is to not do this
at home because only an orthodontist is trained to make
these decisions. Besides, you may break a bracket."
Dr. Jeffrey S. Genecov, DDS,
MSD, FICD, FACD of Dallas, Texas adds, "Any damage that's
done to the braces, having them come loose, accidental
injury, etc from unpracticed hands could slow down and
extend treatment times. While all of these skills are
learned and learnable, this what we do every day all day.
That's why in my office we encourage patients to come in and
have their ligatures changed whenever they need to -- and
also one reason why we're almost 75% using self-ligating
Several other orthodontists
and dentists were asked the same question and all agreed
that changing your own ligs is not a good idea.
In addition, the owners of
JawProducts.com, a website that sells ligatures stated, "We
do not recommend you changing your ties yourself. Please
follow the advice of your orthodontist."
If you need fresh ligatures or powerchains, it is best to
call your orthodontist and go in for a quick appointment to
have them changed. Never attempt to change your ligatures or
double up on your elastics, or modify your treatment in any
way without first discussing it with your orthodontist or
For more information about ligature stains
and how to avoid them, read our article
Help! Did I Stain My Braces?
photo from //www.berkmanshapirosmiles.com