Force degradation of orthodontic latex elastics: An in-vivo study

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Our objectives were to assess the force degradation of orthodontic latex elastics over 48 hours in vivo and to study the relationship between the amount of mouth opening and the degree of force decay.


Fifty-two orthodontic patients wearing fixed appliances using Class II elastics were asked to wear premeasured-force 3/16-in heavy and medium intermaxillary elastics. The force amounts were measured and compared at different time intervals.


Fifty percent of the force was lost after 3.9 hours for the medium elastics and after 4.9 hours for the heavy elastics. A continuous significant force drop in all elastics was seen at all time intervals (P <0.05, P <0.001). There was greater force loss in the heavy elastics compared with the medium elastics in vivo at all time intervals (P <0.001); the rates of force loss, however, were similar.


Fifty percent of force degradation occurred in the first 4 to 5 hours. Because of breakage and for oral hygiene purposes, orthodontic elastics should be changed daily; otherwise, elastics can be used for 48 hours. Force decay of the elastics was correlated to the lateral distance between the maxillary canine and the mandibular first molar in occlusion.

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