Power Chain Braces: Costs, Side Effects & Alternatives

Clinical Content Reviewed by Byte Licensed DDS
Last Modified:

Table of Contents

  1. Why are Power Chain Braces Used?
  2. How Do Power Chains Braces Used?
  3. What Do Power Chains Do?
  4. Types of Power Chains for Braces
  5. How Long Will I Wear Them?
  6. Power Chain Colors
  7. Do Power Chain Braces Hurt?
  8. Alternatives
  9. Taking Care of Power Chains
  10. What To Do If Your Chains Break

Power chain braces are a form of braces treatment. They’re not actually braces. They are connected elastics (used instead of the normal elastics or single bands) that are positioned on teeth to apply more pressure and force movement.

Power chain braces are often worn near the completion of braces treatment to address any small issues remaining. Because power chain braces apply more force and pressure, they can move teeth more efficiently and quickly address problems like gaps and crowding.

Why are Power Chain Braces Used?

Power chain braces are used to apply more pressure to the teeth in order to encourage movement. They’re often used near the end of orthodontic treatment when the dentist or specialist is looking to close any remaining gaps or correct any other issues that need more adjustment.

How Do Power Chains Braces Used?

To understand power chain braces, it’s important to understand how braces work.

With braces, small slotted brackets are attached to the teeth — usually they are cemented on. A wire (called an archwire) is then threaded through the brackets. Small rubber bands (called ligatures or elastics) are sometimes used to hold the wire in place. 

The wire is tightened regularly to apply gentle and continuous pressure. This pressure is what moves the teeth into new, corrected positions. 

Power chain braces usually use connected O-ring elastics over a series of teeth (rather than the regular single elastic over a single tooth) to apply more pressure and uniform tension in order to move teeth more efficiently. This application of sliding friction mechanics applies more force to move teeth without applying excessive pressure that could cause too much pain or discomfort. The tension between the O-rings is what makes power chain braces so effective in moving teeth quickly.

What Do Power Chains Do?

Power chains can be used by your orthodontist to correct a number of orthodontic issues, including gaps between teeth, crooked teeth, and tooth rotation.

Types of Power Chains for Braces

There are three different types of power chain braces, determined by how the links on the chain are spaced.

  • Closed: These have no space. They connect at every tooth.

  • Short: There is a small interlink space, and they connect at every other tooth.

  • Long: There is a longer interlink space, and they connect at every third tooth.

How Long Will I Need To Wear Power Chains?

How long you’ll wear power chains will depend entirely on your orthodontist’s treatment plan, although many people wear their power chains for at least six weeks, often near the end of their orthodontic treatment. Some people wear power chain braces for six months or more during treatment.

Power Chain Braces Colors

Power chains come in a wide variety of colors, including these:

  • Blue

  • Pink

  • White

  • Red

  • Orange

  • Purple

  • Clear

Because power chains are often worn near the end of braces treatment, many people like to wear their power chains in fun colors to celebrate their style and their almost-ready new smile.

Do Power Chain Braces Hurt?

Power chains are designed to apply more pressure than regular elastics without significantly more pain. However, pressure can cause discomfort, as it often does during routine adjustment visits.

If you or your child is experiencing discomfort from the power chain braces, talk to your orthodontist about pain management or treatment alternatives.

Power Chain Alternatives Are Available

Your orthodontist may map out your treatment plan during your very first visit. Planning like this allows for accurate estimates, so you won't be asked to pay more for chains if they're added later. But you may choose to avoid the technique altogether.

alternatives to power chain braces

You have several power chain alternatives to consider, including:

  • Extraction refusal. Some customers opt to keep all of their teeth. That decision can add months or years to your treatment plan. But without big gaps, you won't need power chains.

  • Standard braces. Wires and brackets can also move your teeth, even without the help of elastics.

  • Clear aligners. Mild or moderate smile adjustments can be tackled with the help of clear, plastic trays that slide over your teeth. You won't need brackets, wires, or power chains with this method.

DID YOU KNOW Aligners work for many orthodontic issues and can cost thousands less than braces.

Taking Care of Power Chains

Anytime hardware or accessories are used on the teeth, there is more opportunity for harmful bacteria or food particles to accumulate between the teeth and the hardware. Because of this, it’s imperative that an effective dental oral hygiene routine be maintained while wearing braces and power chains. 

In addition to twice a day brushing and daily flossing, consider these other hygiene tips:

  • Avoid sticky, chewy, or hard-to-eat foods.

  • Use an antimicrobial mouthwash and be sure to swish vigorously. 

  • Use interdental brushes or other flossing devices (like a water flosser) to clean the areas between braces and teeth.

  • Brush teeth with a gentle toothbrush after eating.

What To Do If Your Power Chain Breaks

If a loop of the power chain has come off, you may be able to repair it with tweezers.

Otherwise, call your orthodontist and try to get in for a repair visit as soon as possible in order to avoid any delay in treatment completion.

Power Chain Braces Frequently Asked Questions

Power chains may be used at any phase of braces treatment, but they are most commonly used near the end, as the orthodontist is adjusting the treatment plan with the end in close sight.

When you’ll wear power chains will depend on your treatment plan and progress. Some people may never need power chain braces.

Most people will get power chain braces in the final stage of their braces treatment, at least six weeks before they are supposed to get their braces removed. It may take about six weeks for power chain braces to successfully move teeth.

Any time more pressure is applied to the teeth, it might result in some pain. The discomfort caused by the power chains will vary depending on many factors, including the problems being corrected, how many power chains are being used, and how tight they are.

Some people will experience pain or discomfort for a few days, or up to a week, after getting power chain braces. Over-the-counter pain relievers may help.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
Back to Braces articles