How Do Braces Work?
Braces work by exerting constant pressure on your teeth, much like regular exercise can do for your other bones. When this happens, the connective tissue in your gums moves and shifts in tiny increments, allowing bone to grow into place, holding your teeth in their new position. This is called bone remodeling.
Braces have three main components:
1. Brackets – made from metal or (tooth colored) ceramic, brackets are attached to each tooth, either by bonding (like glue or cement), or with a band.
2. Arch Wire – a thin metal wire that runs over each bracket and provides the force and pressure used to move teeth.
3. Elastic – known as “ligature” or “o-ring”, elastics come in many colors and are used to hold the arch wires in place. Elastics are usually changed at each adjustment visit.
Active Treatment Phase
Braces are part of the “active” component of orthodontic treatment. Teeth movement and bone remodeling happens when the arch wire puts pressure on the teeth. Sometimes appliances such as headgear are needed to stop the movement of particular teeth so others can align properly around them, or springs or rubber bands may be used to put pressure on a tooth at a specific angle so that it moves into alignment in harmony with the rest of the teeth.
Once teeth movement is complete in the active part of orthodontic treatment, your teeth may look perfect, but the full treatment is not complete. The retention phase of braces treatment is essential to ensure that your teeth stay in their proper place. It takes a while to get your teeth moving, and whether or not you can see it, it takes time for that movement to stop and for the bone to grow around the teeth. This is especially true for younger patients, whose jaw bones are often still growing and developing during and after their active treatment phase. This is why it is essential to wear your retainers as advised by your orthodontist – so you can enjoy the results of your time and effort – for life!
Advancements in Braces Technology & Materials
Although braces have been around for quite a long time, there have been many developments and advancements in the materials, methods, and techniques of orthodontic braces, which make them a consistently excellent and effective treatment option for many people of all ages.
Metal Braces are the most common orthodontic treatment option selected by our patients. Brackets are now smaller than they were years ago, with a lower profile on the tooth. This makes them more comfortable to wear, and easier to protect with a mouthguard. Less bracket surface area also makes them easier to keep clean than the brackets used years ago. Arch wires have developed as well – the metal in the arch wire becomes even stronger when activated by the heat in your mouth.
Clear (Ceramic) Braces are an excellent treatment option when you want the speed and efficiency of traditional braces, with a much lower visibility profile. Clear braces are made of ceramic, and are often paired with white or frosted archwires and clear elastics. Tooth-colored braces brackets are also available. Your orthodontist may recommend clear or tooth-colored to more closely match and blend with your natural tooth shade. Clear braces are an excellent treatment alternative if you are considering Invisalign® treatment.