In their entirety, braces work by applying continuous pressure over a period of time to slowly move teeth in a specific direction.
Compression and tension forces exerted by braces move not only the teeth but also repositions the tissues and blood vessels around the teeth. The periodontal ligament and alveolar bone are remodeled. The bone is reabsorbed and reformed.
So, now you know how it works, let’s check out its parts and functions
Components of Braces and their Functions
Brackets are the small squares that are bonded directly to the front of each tooth with a special dental bonding agent or are attached to orthodontic bands. Brackets act like handles, holding the arch wires that move the teeth. There are several types of brackets, including stainless steel, and tooth-colored ceramic or plastic, which are often selected because they’re less obvious. Occasionally, brackets are cemented to the back of teeth, in order to hide them from view.
Orthodontic bands are stainless steel, clear, or tooth-colored materials that are cemented to the teeth with dental bonding agents. They wrap around each tooth to provide an anchor for the brackets. The clear or tooth-colored bands are more cosmetically appealing options but are more expensive than stainless steel. They are not used in all patients. Some people have only brackets and no bands.
Spacers are separators that fit between teeth to create a small space prior to the placement of orthodontic bands.
Arch wires attach to the brackets and act as tracks to guide the movement of the teeth. Arch wires can be made of metal or be clear or tooth-colored.
Ties are small rubber rings or fine wires that fasten the arch wire to the brackets.
Tiny elastic rubber bands, called ligatures, hold the arch wires to the brackets.
Springs may be placed on the arch wires between brackets to pull, push, close or open the gap between teeth.
A headgear is another tool used by orthodontists to aid in correcting irregularities of the teeth.
Elastics or rubber bands attach to hooks on brackets and are worn between the upper and lower teeth in various ways. They usually apply pressure for moving the upper teeth against the lower teeth to achieve a perfect fit of individual teeth.
Facebow headgear is the wire gadget that is used to move the upper molars back in the mouth to correct bite discrepancies and also to create room for crowded teeth. The facebow consists of a inner metal part shaped like a horseshoe that goes in the mouth, attaching to buccal tubes, and an outer part that goes around the outside of the face and is connected to a headgear strap.
Newer “mini-braces,” which are much smaller than traditional braces, maybe an option for some. There is another method of straightening teeth that uses removable plastic retainers that may also work when crowding of the teeth is not too severe. Your orthodontist will discuss the various types of braces with you and determine which might be the best option for your situation.
Realigning teeth isn’t an overnight process, and positive outcomes require patient cooperation from beginning to end. Take note of the following tips for success.
Keep track of all orthodontic appointments. it may seem like endless visits to the orthodontist, but missing critical adjustment appointments can add time onto the length of treatment.
See your family dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Untreated dental complications may interfere with the progress of your orthodontic treatment.
Maintain an excellent home care routine. Braces can trap food and bacteria, so to avoid any enamel demineralization, brush regularly with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Flossing may be tricky but try your best.