How Do Braces Work?

Braces are an impressive innovation. They can solve anything from simple gaps to something like complex crowding and misalignment. This dental appliance fixes these problems by gradually and safely moving teeth, so you will eventually get a better and healthier smile.

If you plan to get braces soon, you may want to know how they work. How do they push and pull the teeth, so they are in their correct positions?

This blog post will tell you everything you need to know about how braces work to straighten your teeth.

The components of what makes up braces demonstrated on a single tooth.

What are the Components of Braces?

Braces are made up of three to four components. There could be more depending on what the orthodontist thinks is suitable for the patient. The most common parts of braces are the following:

  1. Brackets: They are made of metal traditionally, but they can also use ceramic. Brackets come with small hooks or doors where the wire (which is another component that you will learn about later) is hooked or threaded. There are two basic ways to secure the brackets. The first one is to close this door or hook. The other is through the use of elastic, which is applied on top of the wires.
  2. Glue: This next component is the bonding material used to attach the brackets to each of your teeth. Don’t worry because this glue is absolutely mouth-friendly. Several years ago, many orthodontists preferred to attach the brackets to orthodontic bands. This band curls around the tooth so that the bracket will stay in place. Nowadays, however, the brackets are directly attached to the tooth. For patients who require serious treatment, the orthodontist may have to use both metal bands and glue to give the brackets and the braces themselves more leverage.
  3. Wire: The third part of braces is the archwire, which is a thin piece of metal that connects the brackets to one another. The shape and curvature of the wire will depend on your teeth and how they should move in the right direction. Crimping the wire may be necessary for some instances, particularly those that need help in fixing a stubborn tooth.
  4. Elastic: Finally, the fourth component is the ligature elastic. It is also known as an O-ring, which gives the braces their colour. Elastics connect the archwire and bracket. Most importantly, they have a huge role in moving your teeth. It is why when you visit your orthodontist, the elastics are switched and tightened, which means your teeth have moved. Elastics are essential for those whose bite needs correction. They are connected using a hook on both the upper and lower brackets. When applied to correct an overbite, these elastics help pull the upper jaw backwards. For underbites, they pull the lower jaw back.

Some patients can have more than these four implements. For instance, if the archwires are very narrow, they may require an expander for widening the arch at the bottom. Other patients require more rubber bands, while others do not need them at all.

You may even hear about orthodontic bands, which can be made of different materials, such as stainless steel. Some bands mimic the colour of the teeth so that they will be less visible. They are attached to the teeth using dental bonding agents. Their primary purpose is to provide anchorage for the brackets, but many patients do not need them.

Spacers are also a part of braces, which are placed between teeth to give space where necessary. Ties or rubber rings are for attaching the archwires to the brackets. Ligatures are also popular, which are tiny elastic bands that do the same thing.

Anthony from Kingsley Orthodontics putting braces on teeth.

How Braces Move Teeth

With the components explained, it makes it easier to understand how braces work. The process is complex, but we will walk you through it.

Before application, the orthodontist will first take a mould of your teeth to make a cast. It is a significant step because it will allow the orthodontist to plan how your teeth should move. During this stage, the goal is to figure out the best possible position for the teeth while considering how to apply the brackets.

Here’s how the process works:

  1. First, the archwire is inserted into the brackets, which will apply pressure to the teeth. The wire will not be perfectly even.
  2. There will be bends to put different types of energy or pressure on each tooth. For instance, if there is a slight bend, it could be for moving one tooth that is far forward and another that is too far back. This way, they will be aligned with each other. Bends also help encourage a twisted tooth to face the correct direction.
  3. Remodelling is now starting. It is when the teeth move because of the pressure put on them. This pressure causes cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts to form around the roots of the teeth.
  4. Along with the force of the wire, the cells create negative energy on one side, causing some form of bone removal due to osteoclasts. They have the ability to destroy bone, which is also a process known as resorption. Meanwhile, bone is reformed on the other side, thanks to osteoblasts. These cells encourage bone to grow on the side where there is a pulling type of pressure on the periodontal membrane causing it to pull away from the bone. It is a process known as a deposition.
  5. Resorption is not something to be scared of. Although it may be associated with gum disease, the resorption process involving braces is fairly quick. More often than not, it takes about three days. On the other hand, deposition takes a little longer. It can take up to three months or even more, depending on the patient.
  6. With the bones manipulated, each tooth will slowly move to the right position with the pressure from the braces. The bone, jaws, and teeth will continue with the remodelling process. Take note that remodelling only happens when there is a constant pressure. It is why patients who use Invisalign are reminded to wear them as often as possible.
  7. As bone absorption and deposit take place on either side, the tooth will begin moving. But once the pressure stops, such as when the braces are finally removed, it will settle into and take a new position.
  8. The orthodontist will keep you on a strict schedule for visits. These appointments are for tightening and adjustments. Your teeth will move, which means the braces should be adjusted for correct teeth movement.
  9. Once the orthodontist sees that the treatment has worked successfully, your braces will be removed.
  10. Your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned after the removal.
  11. You may need to undergo some X-rays and even bite impressions. These procedures help ensure that the teeth have aligned correctly. They also allow the orthodontist to check if wisdom teeth started developing during the treatment. If they did, they might have to be extracted. This way, they do not cause the newly treated teeth to move to the wrong position.
  12. Even if your braces are off, the teeth can drift back to their previous positions. Therefore, you have to be diligent in wearing your retainers. They will keep your teeth in their current location.

Retainers can either be fixed or removable, just like braces. They should be worn all day for the next few months, and then you can wear them nightly after.

Plastic teeth with braces on them without wires.

Will It Hurt When the Teeth Start to Move?

When the braces are first installed, you should not feel any pain. However, over the coming days, there will be some discomfort. It can come with headaches as well. This discomfort can keep happening during and after adjustments. But in between, you should feel normal.

Pain during the mentioned times is described as dull with a little bit of soreness, often coupled with throbbing. If you do feel any discomfort, you can take pain relievers, such as ibuprofen.

After five days to a full week of getting the treatment, you should feel a lot better. Your teeth will get used to the braces at this point, making eating easier for you. Still, you should expect that some hard foods are difficult to chew, but normal eating should resume by now.

Braces hurt when they get tightened and when you first get them. These times are when the appliance exerts the most effort.

Why are Adjustments Necessary?

Aside from the application or installation, braces should be regularly tightened. Orthodontists have to move the teeth in stages. You cannot just ask for your teeth to be straightened in only one session; otherwise, the pain would be unbearable, and you could end up damaging your teeth.

When you get the braces, they will not move your teeth to the desired positions right away. It will be done at a comfortable pace, which means it will take a while before you see the difference. When the teeth reach the target position, the braces will stop exerting force.

Therefore, they should be adjusted or tightened. This way, your teeth will move on to the next step. Adjustments will be repeated several times throughout the treatment.

Braces on a young girl who is smiling.

Is the Process the Same for Adults and Children?

Orthodontics works for any age. It means you can get braces even when you are an adult. However, there are certain advantages when the treatment begins earlier in life.

Younger patients have underdeveloped jawline and tissue. Therefore, they are more flexible, allowing the teeth to be more responsive. It is why many teenagers finish their treatment faster than adults whose jaws are already developed.

How Do You Maintain Your Braces?

After application, you should first avoid certain foods, including those that are hard and chewy. It is also vital to stay away from foods that can get stuck between your gum line and the braces. Some examples are hard candies, chewing gum, and popcorn.

Wearers will find that teeth trap food much easier, which can lead to tooth decay. You may want to stop consuming sugary foods and beverages, as well as starchy ones. This way, they will not contribute to tooth enamel damage.

Oral care is indispensable, but it is even more significant once you start wearing braces. Brushing after meals is a requirement to avoid having food getting between the teeth and your braces. You should floss as well. Particular types of floss can be used so that you can floss around the braces and reach the sites that are difficult to clean.

You can use an interdental toothbrush for cleaning underneath and around the wires and brackets. It is also essential to visit the dentist for professional cleaning once every six months to a year.

You will need to visit for an adjustment every few weeks. It is not just for tightening but also for ensuring that you have been taking care of your oral health and braces. The orthodontist may also change the O-rings if required.

An Orthodontist performing a routine braces check up and tightening.

How Long Will The Treatment Take?

Treatment can vary from one patient to another. In most cases, though, people wear braces for at least a year up to three years. As long as you follow the instructions of your orthodontist, you will soon find yourself with a better smile at the shortest possible time.

Will Teeth Move After Braces?

It is always possible for the teeth to move even when you have completed the treatment. You can prevent it from happening by following one simple rule: wear your retainer. Your orthodontist will tell you when to wear it and for how long.

It is not easy to pinpoint the exact reason why teeth move after braces. However, wear and tear is often the most common cause. Each day, you use your teeth for chewing, smiling, and even sneezing. You could also be clenching them without you noticing, which means you apply pressure on your teeth daily. Movement can be unpredictable, but wearing a retainer will stop any unwanted shifting.

Are you ready to change your smile? Speak to us here at Kingsley Orthodontics so you can begin your journey to achieving the straight teeth that you have always wanted.

The team at Kingsley Orthodontics ready to service new and current patients.

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