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Braces are a common orthodontic treatment used to straighten teeth, correct bite issues, and improve overall dental health.

Braces can achieve incredible results for patients, preventing a lifetime of cosmetic and medical problems. It’s no wonder people are curious about how braces work. Here’s a simplified explanation to help you understand the process.

How Do Braces Move Teeth?

Braces work by exerting constant pressure on the teeth and jaws, gradually changing their positions and transforming your smile. Here’s how it happens:

  1. Applying Pressure: The brackets, which are glued to your teeth, hold the archwire in place. The archwire applies steady pressure on the teeth, guiding them into the desired position over time.
  2. Periodontal Ligaments: The soft tissue surrounding your teeth and bone are called periodontal ligaments. These ligaments hold your teeth in place and can stretch or compress as your teeth move.
  3. Bone Remodeling: When braces move a tooth to the right, the periodontal ligament on the right side compresses, and the bone on the left side breaks down. New bone forms on the left to fill the gap, securing the tooth in its new position.

Understanding this process highlights the importance of consistent orthodontic care and adjustments. By following your orthodontist’s guidance, you can achieve a healthy, beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime.

Here is a detailed look at how braces work:

Components of Braces

  1. Brackets: Small square or rectangular attachments bonded to the front of each tooth. They hold the archwire in place and guide the teeth into their correct positions.
  2. Archwire: A thin metal wire that runs through the brackets, applying pressure to the teeth to move them.
  3. Bands: Metal rings that fit around the back molars, providing a stable anchor for the braces.
  4. Elastics (O-rings) / ligatures: Small rubber bands that hold the archwire in the brackets. They can also be used to apply additional force in specific directions.
  5. Coil Springs: Springs placed on the archwire between brackets to apply additional pressure and create space.
  6. Power Chains: Connected elastic ligatures that can help close gaps between teeth.
  7. Bite turbos: Resin / coloured tooth filling bumps on your teeth to prevent you from biting off your lower braces.

How Braces Move Teeth

Braces work by applying continuous, gentle pressure to the teeth over time, which gradually moves them into their desired positions. This process involves several key steps:

  1. Initial Alignment: When braces are first applied, the archwire exerts pressure on the teeth, causing them to start moving. This initial phase focuses on aligning the teeth and correcting any crowding or spacing issues.
  2. Bone Remodelling: The pressure from the braces stimulates bone remodelling around the teeth. The bone in the direction of the tooth movement breaks down (resorption), while new bone forms behind the teeth (deposition) to support their new positions.
  3. Space Closure: If there are gaps between the teeth, power chains or coil springs may be used to close these spaces.
  4. Bite Correction: Rubber bands (elastics) may be used to correct bite issues such as overbites, underbites, or crossbites by exerting additional pressure in specific directions.
  5. Detailing and Finishing: Once the teeth are properly aligned and the bite is corrected, minor adjustments are made to refine the final tooth positions.

Duration of Treatment

The length of time braces are worn varies depending on the complexity of the case. On average, treatment lasts between 18 months to 3 years. Regular adjustments, typically every 4-8 weeks, are necessary to ensure the teeth are moving correctly and to make any needed modifications.

Post-Braces: Retainers

After braces are removed, retainers are used to maintain the new positions of the teeth. Retainers prevent the teeth from shifting back to their original positions and are usually worn full-time initially, then gradually reduced to nighttime use.

Benefits of Braces

  • Improved Alignment: Braces effectively straighten teeth, improving both function and appearance.
  • Better Oral Health: Straight teeth are easier to clean, reducing the risk of cavities and gum disease.
  • Enhanced Bite Function: Correcting bite issues can improve chewing efficiency and reduce strain on the jaw.
  • Increased Confidence: A straighter smile can boost self-esteem and confidence.

By understanding how braces work, patients can better appreciate the process and the importance of following their orthodontist’s instructions for optimal results.

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