What are Molar Bands?
Molar bands are small pieces of bone that grow around teeth during growth. They have been found in different parts of the human body, but they mainly occur in the mouth and upper jaw region. Most commonly, these bands consist of several bones connected with each other and sometimes connect to one another through thin skin flaps called papillae. These papillae are the source of tooth loss and can cause pain when chewing or biting.
The most common type of molar bands are called “dental caries” bands because they form around the roots of teeth that have developed dental decay. Other types of molar bands include:
cavities (gum disease)
periodontitis (inflammation of gum tissue)
periodontal cysts (fluid filled sacs that develop in the back part of your mouth)
masticatory ulcers (infection inside the mouth caused by bacteria or viruses).
The following image shows what happens when teeth are exposed to air. In this case, a molar band has formed around an infected tooth.
The infection is caused by bacteria and damages the gums and jawbone. As a result, pus appears between the root of the tooth and the gum tissue that connects it to your mouth. This can cause molar bands to form around infected teeth.
What are Teeth Bands?
Teeth bands are used in dentistry to protect teeth from cracks and other damage. As the name suggests, the bands made of metal (usually stainless steel or silver) fit around the teeth and prevent them from breaking. They are also used to protect teeth against injury and wear during physical activity such as playing wind instruments, clenching or grinding your teeth, bicycle or horseback riding. Bands are available in different sizes to better fit your teeth and are usually custom-made by your dentist. They are not sold over-the-counter and must be prescribed by your dentist.
Teeth bands are one of several types of dental appliances used to treat teeth and gum diseases. Other types of appliances include:
mouth guards: used to protect against physical trauma (e.g.
during contact sports)
dental retainers or aligners: used to correct minor problems in the position of your teeth
fixed bridges: used to replace missing teeth (natural or artificial)
dental implants: titanium screws that replace missing teeth roots.
The following image shows a metal band used to prevent teeth from moving or breaking.
What are the types of Molar Bands?
The following are five types of molar bands to be considered.
Molar bands without cavities: These bands occur around the root of an un-carious tooth. They are thin and closely bound to the tooth.
Sometimes they can be hard to see because they are so close to the teeth root. Molar bands with cavities: molar bands with cavities may be formed around a rotten tooth’s root. Normally, the band is formed by hardened plaque. It may also contain small amounts of soft or decayed material (partial carious penetration). Molar bands with periodontitis: This type of band develops in patients with periodontal problems (gum disease). The band is usually grayish brown when it contains smudges of blood and pus. It normally forms around the root tip of a tooth (apex) that is not inflamed. Molar bands with periodontal cysts: This type of band is formed by a collection of sero-proteic fluid (cyst). It is normally seen on a tooth that has an untreated periodontal disease. Molar bands with masticatory ulcers: In this case, the band can be seen around teeth that are affected by an infection inside the mouth (ulcer). The band is usually white.
What are the symptoms of bands around teeth?
Teeth bands are normally painless because they lack feeling. You cannot see a band unless it is stained by food or if there is an obvious line between the tooth and the band. In some cases, you might feel mild discomfort when chewing or biting. If you notice a band, you should make an appointment with a dentist.
How are bands diagnosed?
Your dentist can normally see bands on a routine dental check-up. In some cases, your dentist will use a special instrument called an explorer (looks like a small screw driver) to feel the band and determine what material is forming it. This tool is normally used to determine how much tooth structure is left. Using an explorer, your dentist should be able to tell you the type of material that forms the band.
How are bands treated?
Once bands have been diagnosed, the next step is to determine whether they are active or inactive. An active band is one that is still forming. If your dentist finds an active band, it is very important that you return for regular check-ups until the band has finished forming. If left untreated, an active band may continue to form and grow all the way around the tooth root, possibly cutting off the blood supply. In rare cases, this can lead to an infection inside the tooth root that cannot be cured. If bands are detected early enough, they can normally be stopped before they completely grow around the tooth. In this case, bands are sealed off with a special light-cured resin material.
If the band has already finished forming, it s normally left alone unless it is causing symptoms (see next section).
What are the complications of bands?
A band can sometimes lead to a condition called “pericoronitis.” This is an inflammation of the tissues that surround the crown of a partially exfoliated (loose) tooth. The condition normally starts with minor symptoms such as mild pain or tenderness around the tooth. As the condition worsens, patients may experience increased pain and swelling. In some cases, there may also be bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
If left untreated, pericoronitis may lead to infection inside the tooth socket (osteomyelitis). Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone that requires long-term antibiotics to cure.
In some cases, surgery is also required.
In general, it is not recommended to remove a band unless it is causing symptoms. If you do feel pain or tenderness around a tooth that has a band, you should contact your dentist as soon as possible.
How can I take care of my bands?
Because bands are normally sealed off with a special resin, proper home care is all that is normally required. You should continue to brush and floss your teeth normally. If you start to notice signs of pain or discomfort, you should contact your dentist. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics or an antacid to help with any inflammation that may be present.
If your band is in an area that interferes with normal brushing and flossing, your dentist may trim the band to allow you better access to the area. It is very important to clean the area carefully after this procedure so that plaque is not allowed to build up under the band.
Plaque under a band can lead to pericoronitis (see previous section).
How long should I have to take care of my bands?
This will vary from patient to patient and will be determined by your dentist. In general, bands should not require any special maintenance after the first year as long as you are practicing good home care.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.
Sources & references used in this article:
The use of ‘Fluor Protector®’, a fluoride varnish, as a caries prevention method under orthodontic molar bands by ML Adriaens, LR Dermaut… – The European Journal of …, 1990 – academic.oup.com
Decontamination of tried‐in orthodontic molar bands by MR Fulford, AJ Ireland, BG Main – The European Journal of …, 2003 – academic.oup.com
A 12-month clinical comparison of resin-modified light-activated adhesives for the cementation of orthodontic molar bands by JP Fricker – American journal of orthodontics and dentofacial …, 1997 – Elsevier
Polymerization efficiency of glass-ionomer and resin adhesives under molar bands by DJ Rejman, T Eliades, TG Bradley… – The Angle …, 2008 – meridian.allenpress.com