How do Braces Work to Move and Straighten Teeth (in-depth look)

Orthodontic corrections tend to be expensive as well as lengthy, which is why many people may not want to undergo the procedure if the problem is not too severe. However, braces can be very helpful especially if you have an abnormal teeth alignment that has been affecting your bite as well as your appearance.

As it is said “a stitch in time saves a nine,” braces can keep your dental complications from getting worse and prevent the buildup of excess pressure at the wrong spot, which can lead to pain and further tooth and jaw damage.

Reasons to Get Braces

Braces are also equally popular for cosmetic purposes. Since crooked teeth are difficult to clean, it can lead to an excess plaque buildup and tooth decay.

Corrective braces can gradually make it much easier to maintain oral health, thereby allowing you to have a beautiful and confident smile.

Although they do cost a little money, investing in braces can avert a lot of problems and allow you to enjoy a superior oral health for decades to come.

Components of Braces

Braces may look simple, however, they comprise of many different components, each of which serves specific purposes during the treatment procedure.

The components used in the braces may vary from one person to another depending on how extensive of a correction is required.

Nevertheless, most of the basic components remain the same. Given below are some of the common components that you can see in dental braces.

  • Brackets
  • These are small square shaped pieces of stainless steel, plastic or enamel colored ceramic that is directly attached to the front of each tooth.

    The brackets are held together by the Arch wire and help to move the required tooth in the desired direction.

  • Archwires
  • These are the wire that holds together the brackets and is responsible for applying pressure so as to guide the teeth movement. They are made out of metal.

  • Orthodontic bands
  • These are flat bands that wrap around the molars so as to provide anchorage to the Arch wire.

    To create a stronghold, the bands are cemented upon the teeth. Orthodontic bands are a commonly used in braces.

    However, since brackets alone can offer a good support, it may not be necessary to use orthodontic bands with all patients.

  • Spacers
  • Just as the name suggests, spacers are used for introducing a space in between the teeth where the orthodontic bands can be fitted later.

  • Ligatures
  • These are small bands or rings made of rubber that serves the purpose of fastening the brackets to the Arch wire. The ligatures can be colored or clear depending on the preference of the wearer.

  • Elastics
  • These are rubber bands that are attached to the brackets through hooks and help to connect the lower and the upper teeth.

    Elastics are mainly used for the purpose of correcting bites. They apply pressure and move the teeth in the desired direction so as to achieve the perfect bite.

How do Braces Work to Move Teeth?

Braces work by applying just the right amount of pressure on certain teeth to have them aligned in the proper direction.

The desired results are obtained by using a combination of wires, tiny rubber bands and brackets as mentioned above.

The components apply steady pressure to the teeth and jaws are properly aligned. The complete treatment may require the patient to wear more than one brace in an orderly sequence.

These set of braces are designed uniquely depending on the patient’s personal requirements and the preferred choice of treatment.

But despite the application of pressure, how do braces work to move the teeth to their ideal location? There are three main different dynamics that come into play with the use of dental braces.

  1. The tension and compression applied by the braces force the teeth to move in a certain desired direction. At the same time, these forces also reposition the blood vessels and tissues around the teeth.
  2. Braces cause the Alveolar bone and Periodontal ligament to get remodeled.
  3. During the process, the bones are reformed and reabsorbed thereby giving permanent results that stay.
Teeth movement

Teeth movement

Bone Remodeling

What is bone remodeling and how is it achieved through the use of braces? Bone remodeling is a Biomechanical process which causes the bones to grow stronger with the application of sustained load and weaker when no load is applied. Bones are made up of two types of cells – the Osteoblasts and the Osteoclasts.

When the load upon a certain bone is increased, the osteoclasts are created, which break down the bone as a response to the applied load.

When the load is removed, new osteoblasts are created, thereby increasing the number of new bony cells.

When this process is repeated over and over again, the bone density naturally increases, thereby giving rise to stronger bones. Dental braces use the advantage of the same mechanism as mentioned above.

The teeth are attached to the jaw bones through sockets which is then surrounded by a ligament known as Periodontal Ligament also known as PDL.

The PDL also acts as a messenger between the bony sockets and the teeth. It is actually the pressure between the bone and the PDL that results in the creation of osteoclasts which break down the bone and then help in restoring the normal space between the bone and the teeth.

At the same time, the tension applied on the PDL results in the creation of osteoblasts in the bone that help in building new bone and make up for the difference.

During this process, it is not necessary to have extreme pressure applied through the braces. A moderate amount of pressure is sufficient.

However, it should be applied upon the teeth for a sufficiently prolonged period of time.

Arch wires and brackets have a central role in the teeth alignment process as they are the main components that help to create the artificial force required for remodeling.

They are quite rigid and retain their original shape throughout the course of use, which makes it possible to apply the same amount of pressure throughout the treatment process.

The materials used for building Arch wires and brackets are even more interesting as they tend to get stiffer after getting activated by the body heat.

Arch wires are usually very thin so as not to cause too much discomfort inside the mouth. These are known as twist wires and look like very thin cables.

Due to their construct and material, the Arch wire gets activated at a temperature of 20 to 25 degrees above the room temperature, which is usually the temperature inside the mouth.

As a result, they are able to retain their shape and assist in bone remodeling throughout the course of treatment.

As patient progresses through the process of dental correction, the rigidity of the Arch wire may differ considerably.

An alloy of nickel and titanium is commonly used for the Arch wires. When not used, these are highly flexible that you can even tie a knot with it.

However, after getting activated by the body heat, they become quite stiff. The positioning of the brackets upon the teeth and the way they are attached to the Arch wire determine the manner in which the corrective forces are transferred to the teeth.

It takes about 72 hours for the osteoclast breakdown to take place in a full-fledged manner. It can then take up to 90 days for the process of osteoblast rebuilding to get completed.

Removing the retainer can cause a relapse which will render the entire treatment process quite useless.

Therefore, it is quite important to wear the retainers for a sustained period of time and closely stick to the guidelines as provided by the orthodontist.

How Long Should one Wear Braces?

Orthodontic treatment procedures last for around 2 to 3 years on average. In most cases, there are multiple phases of treatment.

Young children between the ages of 3 and 7 wear the dental arches for very short periods of time such as 4 to 8 months.

The extensive treatments are only done in children above the age of 9. Appliances for expanding the jaw may be used during the mixed rendition period so as to provide relief from overcrowding.

After these appliances are removed, the children are usually given retainers so that the new set of teeth grows out in a normal manner.

It should be noted that since braces are usually worn for prolonged periods of time, proper maintaining proper oral hygiene is extremely important in order to prevent gum diseases and oral cavities.

In fact, wearing braces for a very long period of time is generally discouraged for the sake of oral hygiene and the general discomfort it causes to the wearer.

Final words:

The corrective procedures used may be slightly different from patient to patient depending on the problem that needs to get addressed.
Therefore, there may be slight differences in the mechanism of braces as well. Nonetheless, it can help in preventing several dental problems such as jaw soreness, chipped teeth, and tooth decay as well as to straighten teeth.

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