Dental or orthodontic braces are attached to a person’s teeth to correct dental issues in both children and adults. They can be used to straighten teeth and ensure a brilliant smile. They can also be used to align teeth and the jaw to assist with other functions such as chewing and speaking. They come in a variety of different types and styles, but all essentially have the same functions. So, how do dental braces transform those crooked teeth into an award winning smile? Read on to find out.
How do Dental Braces work?
To understand how braces work we must first look at the different components that make up a set of braces.
Brackets: This is the small metal or ceramic component that is attached to each tooth. Some people choose to have them attached to the backside of their tooth so they cannot be seen by others. However, most brackets are attached to the front of the tooth with adhesive glue.
Arch Wire: This is a thin piece of wire that is cut and then threaded through the brackets on the teeth. This is an important component of braces because it is this that applies the pressure to each tooth.
Ligature Elastics: These are the brightly colored pieces of elastic that are used to secure the arch wire to the bracket. They come in a variety of colors and need to be changed every few weeks.
Rubber bands and springs: Are used to apply extra pressure to particular teeth to make some move whilst others remain stationery. They attach to hooks at the back of the mouth.
Braces work by applying pressure to the teeth to move them into the desired position. The brackets and the arch wire work together to apply consistent and constant pressure on each tooth. Once the brackets are attached to the tooth the orthodontist will bend the arch wire into the desired shape. Over time this wire will try to return to its normal shape. This applies gentle and consistent pressure to the teeth. As the pressure is applied it loosens the tissue around the tooth holding it in position. The teeth then shift into the required position and the bone around the teeth grows to secure it in place.
This type of orthodontic work is done very slowly and most people will have to wear braces for a minimum of two years to get the desired results. Once braces are attached to the teeth the patient undergoes extensive orthodontic treatment. Every few months the arch wire is replaced with a new one shaped to encourage the teeth to move in the correct direction. This is often referred to as tightening the braces. Tightening braces can cause some discomfort to the patient and the teeth are usually sensitive for a few days until they are accustomed to their new position. Rubber bands may also be used to exert pressure on particular teeth, but this varies from patient to patient. Once the teeth have reached the desired location and the bone has grown to support the teeth in the new position the braces are removed. Retainers are given to the patient to maintain the new shape of the teeth.