How Do Braces Work?
Everyone wants perfectly aligned pearly whites that make it easier to flash a beautiful smile with confidence. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to boast of such natural blessings. Sometimes, alignment issues such as overbite, underbite, overcrowding, and gap can affect the overall appearance of your teeth. One agelong solution for fixing dental issues like this is to get braces.
Orthodontic braces have proven to be an excellent solution for treating a wide range of dental occlusions. But anyone seeking to get this sort of treatment is probably wondering how exactly they work. When most people think of the structure of their teeth, they think each tooth is connected directly to the jawbone, which is why it’s hard to imagine how installing some wires and brackets can get your teeth to move. In this article, we’ll explain how braces help to straighten your teeth.
What Are Braces?
A brace is a dental device, typically consisting of brackets that are bonded to the teeth. These brackets are connected together by wires. The wires apply gentle but constant pressure on the teeth, which causes them to move gradually into the desired position.
While modern aligners such as Invisalign are typically a single plastic tray worn over the teeth, traditional metal braces are more complex, consisting of various parts. The main components of metal or ceramic braces include:
- Brackets: This is a small attachment usually made of stainless steel or ceramic material and fixed to the front of the teeth. It provides a secure base for the other attachment that forms the brace.
- Archwires: The brackets on individual teeth are connected with a flexible wire known as an archwire. Adjusting this wire applies pressure on the teeth to gradually move them into alignment.
- Ligatures or rubber bands: This is an elastic band used to secure the archwire to the brackets and also control tooth movement.
- Buccal tubes: Buccal tubes are attached to the molars and provide additional stability and anchor points for the archwire.
- Springs and coils: In some cases, additional attachments such as springs and coils are installed. These enable orthodontists to apply specific forces to individual teeth, aiding in precise movement as needed.
How Do Braces Work?
To better understand how pressure from the brackets and wires can help move your teeth into alignment, you need to understand how your teeth are actually structured. The visible portion of your teeth is planted in gum tissue (also called gingiva), which is part of a soft membrane known as the periodontal membrane.
As your orthodontic installation applies pressure on your teeth, it causes the periodontal membrane to stretch and compress accordingly. This loosens the teeth slightly and allows new bone to form to support the teeth in their new position. That’s how the magic happens to straighten your crooked teeth. Teeth alignment with braces usually occurs in phases, as highlighted below:
The first phase involves leveling and aligning the teeth. At this phase, the position of the teeth shifts so they sit side by side. This phase may also involve moving the teeth up, down, or across, depending on their initial positioning.
The second phase of your orthodontic treatment with braces involves bite adjustment. This is where the braces address the actual bite problem, such as crossbite, overbite, or gaps in your teeth.
The third phase is all about fine-tuning the position of your teeth. At this stage, the goal is to get every tooth to sit in the best position before the braces are eventually removed.
How Braces Work for Different Types of Orthodontic Issues
The general idea behind using braces is that it exerts pressure on the teeth to get them into position. However, the exact mechanism of this action sometimes depends on the condition you’re trying to fix in the first place. Here’s how braces actually work for different orthodontic conditions.
As the name implies, a person with overcrowding issues has a small jaw, or their teeth are too large, which makes it appear like there are too many teeth in their mouth. Braces help pull individual teeth back, forward, or across to make more room in the jaws for all your teeth to sit side by side.
Sometimes, the patient also gets an expander to increase the size of the jaw. This works for younger patients whose palate isn’t fused yet. Older patients may require a more complex procedure which involves installing small pins that attach the expander to the roof of the mouth to assist the jaw expansion.
Correcting an Overbite or Underbite
Patients with overbite have their top teeth protruding outwards relative to the lower one, causing an overlap of the top teeth. For patients with an underbite, the opposite of this happens.
Correcting an overbite often involves installing the archwires of the braces in a way that applies pressure on the upper teeth to move upward and backward while also moving the lower teeth downward and forward.
In the case of an underbite, the force is directed in a way that encourages the lower teeth to move backward, reducing their protrusion and aligning them properly with the upper teeth. As the teeth move this way, the bones around them will change shape and adjust to their new position.
Braces can also help fix mild cases of tooth gaps. In this case, the archwire is installed in a way that it applies pressure to move the teeth closer together within the periodontal ligaments, closing the gap between them.
Schedule a Consultation to Learn More
It is worth noting that the structure and progress of treatment tend to vary based on individual cases. When you visit our dental clinic to talk to an orthodontist in Waterbury, we’ll evaluate your condition and work you through the process of your orthodontic treatment.
Thanks to modern technology, we can take impressions of your mouth to create digital models showing you how your treatment will progress over time and the expected results at the end of the procedure. The goal is to make sure you fully understand the treatment plan so you can make informed choices about your treatment. Contact us now as OMG Smiles to learn more or visit our dental clinic to talk to our dentists and orthodontists for free.