Orthodontic braces have become a rite of passage for many kids as well as adults. From a client perspective, how braces work can be a mystery. However, there really is no mystery. That said, the science behind these dental contraptions is fascinating and truly amazing. If you’re looking for a London Ontario orthodontist and have questions about how your orthodontics will work before you get braces, read on.
How Do Braces Work?
Braces work by applying ongoing pressure to your teeth over a period of time to slowly encourage them into the correct position. Archwires are used to apply pressure to your teeth, and brackets are used to hold them in place. The bone shape will change as the pressure is applied and teeth move.
The Components of Braces
Braces are basically built with four components:
- the brackets
- the arch wire
- the ligature elastic
- the bonding material (or metal band)
Each of these pieces plays a specific role in the orthodontic process.
The Arch Wire and Bonding Materials
The brackets are probably the piece that people think of immediately when they think of braces. They’re square and are stuck to the teeth with the bonding material (a type of glue) or in some cases, a band of metal. However, the brackets don’t actually move your teeth; the arch wire does.
At first, your braces will have a very light wire. Braces do hurt because they move your teeth ever so slightly. Starting out with the lighter wire makes the process a little more comfortable – relatively speaking – and is better on the teeth and gums. Over the course of time, the light wire will be replaced with a heavier wire. The arch wire is changed and sometimes shaped each time you have your braces tightened.
The brackets play an important role. Aside from allowing the orthodontist to attach the arch wires to your teeth, they are constructed in such a way that their design encourages teeth to move the right direction.
Each tooth requires a specific bracket that will move the tooth and its root into the proper position. If the tooth is very misaligned, despite having the correct bracket, the orthodontist will bend the wire a bit to encourage movement in the right direction.
The Elastic Ligature
Finally, the ligature elastic keeps the arch wire from detaching itself from the brackets. Often these are colorless, but if you’ve seen a kid with braces that match his sports team’s colors, you’ve seen the elastic bands. Like the arch wires, these get changed out with each tightening of the braces.
Not all bands are colorful. If you’re an adult who wears braces, know that you can choose the colors of your bands, (an important consideration in the professional world.) Often adults will choose gray bands because they’re the color of the brackets and more resistant to staining. (Nice if you love red pasta sauce!)
Final Thoughts on Braces
This blog post has provided you with a simple overview of how braces work. It’s likely that you have additional questions. Wonder West Orthodontics in London, ON would love to have a chance to visit with you and help you learn more about braces. Ask us about other options like Invisalign, too!