Broken hooks on braces are a problem when they either cause discomfort to your cheek or you can no longer hook your rubber bands in the correct positions. We’ll address both these issues in this article, but remember to always check with your orthodontist first.
While hooks rarely break on metal braces, they do break on clear braces because they’re much more fragile. Hard foods, chewing on pens or brushing too hard can cause hooks to break or brackets to come loose. If you were wearing rubber bands on those hooks it’s best to discontinue them on both sides.
There are multiple types of hooks that might break or get displaced and poke your cheek, so read on if you want to know which case applies to you.
Also, be sure to check that it’s the actual hook that broke and not the bracket itself, or the buccal tube on your molar. Brackets becoming loose is the most typical orthodontic emergency, while hooks breaking is somewhat rare.
Types of hooks for elastics – which one do you have?
Not all hooks are created equal. In fact, I wrote an article just on braces hooks, so you can learn all about them and easily identify them in your mouth.
There are three types of hooks that can support your rubber bands:
Built-in hooks. Both metal brackets and ceramic brackets have built-in hooks. The metal hooks never break, unless it’s a manufacturer’s issue – at least I’ve never seen one break. The ceramic braces hooks break all the time because they’re basically glass. This can be really inconvenient for elastic wear, so you must take much better care of your braces when choosing ceramic or sapphire.
Kobayashi hooks. These hooks are made of a ligature wire that’s shaped like a hook. They’re either pre-made, or the orthodontist can quickly bend them in-office. These hooks can break, but what ends up happening most often is that they’re either displaced or the twisty part of the Kobayashi hook breaks. They can either come off or stay on the tooth and poke your cheek.
Archwire hooks. These hooks are either soldered to the archwire or crimped on the archwire. The soldered ones never really break. The crimped ones don’t break either, but they can lose their grip on the archwire and begin to slide – you’ll see them moving around.
What caused your hook to break?
Hooks can break for many reasons, and they all have to do with the force applied to the braces and the angle of that force.
- Are you brushing too hard, or pressing too hard with your electric toothbrush? This oral hygiene habit can break a ceramic hook or displace a Kobayashi hook.
- Using a toothpick can definitely hurt components of your braces, so switch to dental floss and water flossers instead.
- Chewing on pens or pencils is a sure recipe for broken braces and ceramic hooks, and so is eating hard foods like popcorn, chewing on hard candy, or chicken wings.
- Trying to do DIY experiments with your braces at home will most likely lead to some broken ceramic hooks or even broken brackets. So it’s best to let the orthodontist do their work.
- And lastly, applying your elastics or rubber bands with too much force, or opening your mouth really wide while wearing your elastics can put too much strain on your brackets and hooks, causing them to break.
Should you still wear elastics? Here’s what to do.
You’re most likely here, reading this article because the hook that supports one of your rubber bands broke. Broken hooks may be annoying, but they’re not an orthodontic emergency. Let’s imagine all scenarios and see if you can figure out what to do:
- A ceramic hook broke. Don’t place your rubber band on the neighboring hook behind the one that broke unless your orthodontist approves. Discontinue elastic wear on both sides.
- A Kobayashi hook is bent or broken. If your Kobayashi hook is truly broken, then discontinue elastic wear on both sides and ask for instructions from your orthodontist. But before you do that, check that your Kobayashi hook is not displaced – it might be digging into your gums, or bent in between teeth, in which case you can try to put it back.
- An archwire hook is broken or sliding. If the crimpable hook is just sliding around, you might still be able to use it, but your orthodontist should know about it. If it’s broken, discontinue elastic wear on both sides.
It’s vital that you stop wearing your rubber bands if you’re not able to place them as your orthodontist showed you. Often, patients decide to continue to wear elastics on just one side or place them in a similar position, and while this seems like a small thing, it can really set you back and add months to your treatment.
Wearing elastics on just one side can lead to issues and pain in your temporomandibular joint. Always check with your ortho if you’re unsure what to do about your rubber bands. Better to be safe than sorry.
What will your orthodontist do about your hook?
If your ceramic hook broke, your orthodontist has two options – he/she can replace the ceramic bracket or place a Kobayashi hook in place of the missing bracket hook.
Ceramic braces are expensive and quite annoying to remove and glue back, that’s why many orthodontists choose to place a Kobayashi hook if it stays on. Kobayashi hooks can also be purchased in white, so they don’t stand out as much when the patient is wearing clear braces.
If your Kobayashi hook broke, it’s simply a matter of replacing it – which is quick and easy to do.
If the hook that broke was soldered on the archwire, your orthodontist will switch to a new archwire. If a crimpable hook is to blame, your orthodontist can crimp it again with a special plier or replace it.
Hooks are an important part of braces, and they’re crucial for elastic wear and space closure mechanics. Your orthodontist will replace your broken hook at the next appointment, so it’s best to just wait until then and follow your doctor’s instructions.