Having a beautiful straight smile can work wonders for your confidence, correct an irregular bite, or just close an unsightly gap. But how do orthodontic braces work?
In this post, we’ll discuss the various types of orthodontic braces and tell you more about how they work. By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll know what to expect and feel more confident about undergoing treatment.
Although modern orthodontic braces are more lightweight and compact than their predecessors, they consist of several parts which work in conjunction to slowly help straighten your smile. Knowing the different parts makes it easier to understand exactly how braces work.
Both conventional and ceramic braces consist of a series of brackets which are glued onto each of the teeth. These are interspersed with arch wire.
Elastic bands or ligatures are then used to connect the brackets and the arch wire. These are dual purpose in that they hold the arch wire in the slot on the bracket, but also help direct the teeth in a certain direction. Movement depends on the type of ligature used and the way it’s tied to the tooth.
So now you know about the working parts of a conventional orthodontic brace…
How do braces work?
Braces work by applying constant pressure to your teeth which in turn causes them to slowly move into the correct position. The arch wire together with the ligature applies the majority of the pressure, while the other parts, such as the brackets, serve to hold the wire in place.
If you happen to have stubborn teeth, then stainless steel wire ligatures may be used in place of elastic ligatures. They work in the same way but provide more force between the tooth and the bracket.
To answer the question of how do orthodontic braces work, you need to be aware that when you look into the mirror you’re only seeing the upper part of your teeth. The real magic happens below the surface!
Firstly you need to know that each and every tooth is attached to the jaw by a fibrous ligament known as the periodontal ligament or periodontal membrane.
While braces actively encourage your teeth to move, they also put pressure on the periodontal membrane located below the gum surface. As this occurs, one side of the membrane stretches out, enabling the teeth to move. The brackets and bands then push from the other side, which creates enough space for the teeth to move into.
This part of the procedure is called ‘bone remodelling’ and serves to make the teeth stronger. Here’s how it works in more detail…
When pressure is applied to push the tooth, cells are triggered known as osteoclasts. Their job is to dissolve the existing bone so that the tooth can be moved. At the same time, when tension is applied, new bone-forming cells known as osteoblasts build new bone to secure the tooth once moved. Over a period of months, the Ying and Yang of pressure and tension provides a continual biological cascade of dissolving and rebuilding until eventually, the tooth or teeth reach their final position.
In addition, the heat inside the mouth (usually around 98 degrees) also causes the wire to bend – kickstarting the tooth movement.
Treatment length varies according to the complexity of each case but once treatment has ended, you should have perfectly aligned teeth and a correct bite.
Here’s how they work…
Rather than just one fixed brace, a patient will be issued with a series of aligners which are worn sequentially for the duration of their treatment. It’s important to note that ClearCorrect braces must be worn for a minimum of 22 hours a day to achieve the best results.
Each new aligner is designed to move the teeth a tiny distance – usually around 0.25mm. While that might not seem like much, it adds up collectively over a period of months to complete a perfectly straight smile.
While each new aligner may initially appear tight, it’s designed to be that way as the teeth slowly start to move into the new aligner, filling the space. As they do so, less pressure is felt, and the aligner will appear more comfortable in the mouth. This shows that your teeth are moving.
Usually after 2 weeks, the aligner has done its job and is replaced with the next one in the series. By the time the last aligner has been worn, the teeth should be straight and in their correct position.
So now you know the answer to “how do braces work?” hopefully you’re feeling more confident and ready to get your braces on.
Why not make an appointment with ORC Dental today and take the first step towards a beautiful new smile.