Updated on February 7, 2024
6 min read

Power Chain Braces

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What are Power Chain Braces?

Dental braces are orthodontic devices made of brackets and wires that gradually shift teeth into proper alignment. They work by putting constant pressure on the teeth over time.

Close up shot of a woman smiling with her power chain braces on

Power chains are a special kind of elastic that connects the brackets and wires of your braces. They hold your braces together and provide extra pressure to align your teeth.

With traditional braces, each bracket is connected to the archwire by just one ligature. Power chains connect each bracket with a string of ligatures linked together. This distributes the pressure more evenly.

Types of Power Chain

Power chains on braces come in three types: closed, short, and long. They differ in how widely spaced the elastic rings are. Your orthodontist will determine which type is best based on your treatment objectives:

FeatureClosed Power ChainsShort Power ChainLong Power Chain
DesignConnect at every bracket, with no space between the elastic ringsConnects at every other bracket, with a short piece of elastic between each ringConnect at every third bracket, so there is more distance between each ring
SizeAround 2.8 mm per loopAround 3.5 mm per loopAround 4.0 mm per loop


Power chain elastomerics come in a variety of colors. You or your child can choose the color you like best. You can also opt for a different color at your next appointment since power chains are changed with each adjustment.

You can make your teeth appear whiter by choosing black, dark blue, or another dark color for your power chains. They’ll create more contrast with the color of your teeth.

Sometimes, power chains become stained due to the foods you eat. If this happens, you can always get a different color at your next office visit.

How Do Power Chains Work? 

With any set of braces, the tension between the ligatures, brackets, and wires pulls the teeth into alignment. But power chains distribute the tension around each bracket, helping to speed up treatment.

Power chains are a combination of ligatures rather than one ligature per bracket. This means that instead of each ligature acting separately, the whole elastic chain works to apply pressure along the archwire.

Your orthodontist may add power chains to your braces toward the end of your treatment. The additional pressure they provide can help close any remaining gaps between teeth.

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Benefits of Power Chains

Power chains on braces are known to:

  • Exert more pressure — By applying more force to your teeth, power chains can help achieve results faster
  • Close gaps between teeth — Power chains can reduce extra space between teeth, such as after extraction, to reduce crowding
  • Be easy to place — Your orthodontist can cut the exact length you need from a spool of power chain elastic

Side Effects of Power Chains

In general, power chain braces come with the same risks as other kinds of braces. They can cause some soreness when first applied or during adjustments, but this will subside as your mouth adjusts to the pressure.

Like typical elastics for braces, power chains can also weaken and lose tension over time. Your orthodontist will replace them at adjustment visits, and they can also replace them if they break.

Who Needs Power Chain Braces?

Anyone who is suitable for traditional metal braces can choose power chain braces instead. This includes children, teens, and adults.

Everyone’s orthodontic treatment needs are different. Some people have severely misaligned teeth, while others only have mild to moderate alignment issues. 

Whether or not you need braces, with or without power chains, is a determination you and your orthodontist can make depending on your needs, budget, and lifestyle.

How Long Do You Wear Power Chains? 

Braces treatment length can take anywhere from 6 months to over 3 years. The severity of your teeth misalignment, your age, and other factors can play a role in determining treatment time.

Power chains are often added toward the end of treatment, so you may only be wearing them for a few months.

Are Power Chains Painful?

No, power chains aren’t painful.

Braces themselves cause discomfort when you first have them placed, and you may feel sore following adjustments. But power chains themselves don’t cause your teeth any pain.

How Do You Care for Power Chain Braces?

To keep your power chain braces as clean and effective as possible, you’ll want to:

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing and flossing are even more important when you have braces. Be thorough to remove any food particles that may have gotten stuck, but be gentle enough not to damage your braces.

If you don’t properly clean your teeth and braces, your treatment may be less effective. You’ll also increase your risk of tooth decay.

Watch What You Eat

Certain types of food can damage your braces or make them difficult to keep clean. 

To minimize the risk of losing a bracket or breaking your power chains, avoid foods such as:

  • Hard or chewy candy
  • Chewing gum
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Pizza crusts
  • Tough cuts of meat

Many dark-colored foods can also stain power chains. Be careful with foods and drinks like wine, chocolate, and tomato sauce.

Take Precautions

Your teeth and braces are vulnerable to damage, so you’ll want to take extra steps to keep them safe:

  1. Wear a mouthguard during contact sports
  2. Avoid opening bottles or packages with your teeth
  3. Don’t pick your teeth or braces

Follow Your Orthodontist’s Instructions

Your orthodontist will provide you with care instructions for your braces. Follow them closely to make your treatment as efficient and hassle-free as possible.

Be sure to contact your orthodontist if you have any problems or concerns with your braces.

What Should I Do If My Power Chains Break?

If your power chains break or if you have any other damage to your braces, contact your orthodontist as soon as possible. 

They’ll book you for an extra visit to replace what’s damaged and answer any questions you have.

Alternative Treatment Options

Power chain braces are one of several options for misaligned or crooked teeth. Other orthodontic devices exist, including:

Your orthodontist can help you determine what type of orthodontic treatment is best for you.


Power chains on braces are a special orthodontic appliance often added toward the end of braces treatment. Rather than individual ligatures on each bracket, power chains are strings of ligatures.

These elastics provide extra pressure, which can help close any remaining gaps between teeth and shorten treatment time. They come in several types, as well as a variety of colors.

Talk to your orthodontist if you have questions or concerns about power chain braces.

Last updated on February 7, 2024
4 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 7, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Braces.” American Dental Association.Mohammed, H., et al. “Effectiveness of nickel-titanium springs vs elastomeric chains in orthodontic space closure: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Orthodontics & Craniofacial Research, 2018.
  2. Weissheimer, André, et al. “In vitro evaluation of force degradation of elastomeric chains used in Orthodontics.” Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, 2013
  3. Braga, Emanuel, et al. “Experimental Evaluation of Strength Degradation of Orthodontic Chain Elastics Immersed in Hot Beverages.” Journal of Indian Orthodontic Society, 2019.
  4. Dindaroğlu, Furkan, and Servet Doğan. “Root Resorption in Orthodontics.” Turkish Journal of Orthodontics, 2016.
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