How Do Braces Do What They Do?

A LOT OF PEOPLE take it for granted that braces can move teeth into their correct positions, but how many people know how that actually works? It’s a pretty fascinating process, and we’re excited to give our patients a closer look at the cellular level of their treatment.

The Components of Your Braces

Each part of your braces serves an important purpose. At minimum, they will include brackets, bands (sometimes called ligatures or O-rings), and archwires, but sometimes they also include extra parts and appliances to help with individual treatment plans.

The Brackets Are the Anchors

You can sometimes tell if someone is new to braces by looking at their brackets. If they aren’t in a very straight line, they’re probably close to the starting position. At that stage, the brackets can even emphasize how crooked their teeth were before braces. We place the brackets in very deliberate spots on the teeth so that they will move into the correct positions.

Archwires Are the Guide Rails

The archwires are what runs through all the brackets, and they can vary in material and thickness depending on the best treatment plan for the patient. The archwires provide gradual, steady pressure in a particular direction as they fight to go back to their original shape. Finally, we use colorful O-to hold the brackets and archwires together.

Elastics for a Bad Bite

The most common extra with braces is elastics, which are used to correct a bad bite or misaligned jaw. They apply pressure towards the proper alignment, but they can only do their job when the patient wears them EXACTLY as the orthodontist instructs. Not wearing them will delay Braces Off Day, but so will wearing too many. Trust us: we have calculated the right amount of rubber bands and the right length of time they need to be worn for the most efficient results.

Your Treatment Goes Down to the Cellular Level

Our teeth don’t simply move. There’s a lot going on with the individual cells that make up the bone of the jaws. Ahead of the tooth, specialized cells called osteoclasts break down the bone cells that are under pressure, making room for the tooth to move. Behind the tooth, osteoblasts are busy building new bone cells to keep the tooth snug in its socket (this part takes longer). The bones are actually reshaping themselves.

Finish Off With Retainers

It takes time for bones to change shape, and until they do, our teeth still remember their old positions. This is why retainers are so important. They help our teeth and jaws get used to their correct positions. They also prevent future shifting that will happen to most people’s teeth with age.

Now You Know How Your Braces Work!

Hopefully we’ve answered a few questions you had about braces, but you should ask us at your next adjustment appointment if you have more! We believe that the better our patients understand their orthodontic appliances, the better they will understand the reasoning behind the instructions we give, and the more confident they will be about their results on Braces Off Day!

We’re looking forward to taking your “after” pictures!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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