What are Dental Braces? – Definition and Parts of the Braces

Dental braces are also known as orthodontic braces or simply braces. They are small devices used in dental care practices for bringing the teeth into a straight alignment. They are used both for improving dental health and for cosmetic purposes. Dental braces can be used for correcting a number of dental complications such as underbites, overbites, cross bites, deep bites, open bites, crooked teeth, malocclusions and more.

Dental braces can also be used together with various other orthodontic devices to speed up the process of correcting the teeth and jaw alignment.

History of Dental Braces

Now that you know what are braces, let’s delve into its history. Braces have been used for a very long time. Today, they have evolved drastically in terms of form as well as effectiveness. All the corrective procedures of the day use highly advanced techniques.

Even the braces are made to be highly comfortable and inconspicuous that it is difficult to spot one while it is still being worn. Instead of the traditional braces that use wires and brackets, the modern ones are made of transparent BPA free plastic and are known as aligners.

Since they are hardly noticeable, one can go out wearing them and walk around confidently in public while the teeth are still getting straightened. However, things were not so easy in the past and it has taken quite a while to get to this.

Although people have resorted to different means for straightening their teeth since the ancient times, there is no evidence of the dental braces being used before the 18th century.

The earliest remains of what are remotely indicative of braces were found in the mummified bodies belonging to the Egyptians. These were metal bands held together by wires and wrapped around the teeth.

The design and the application were starkly different to the modern braces. However, the concept and purpose of use were more or less the same.

What are now used as dental braces, have acquired their present form after going through a lot of modifications. Before they came into being, a large number of devices were used for the purpose teeth alignment.

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The first dental braces were probably those designed by Pierre Fauchard, a French dentist, who took a horseshoe-shaped piece of iron and used it for widening the arch of the mouth.

Then came the circular wire cribs that could be fitted directly upon the teeth to bring them into an alignment. These wire cribs were first designed and used by Christophe-Francois Delabarre in 1819. Next in line were gum elastics held by a wire and used for aligning the jaw.

These were mainly used by Edward Maynard in 1843. This idea was then taken by E.J. Tucker, who improved on the design and started using rubber tubing in place of the wire.

Then in 1893, Henry A. Baker combined the existing techniques to come up with a wire crib that used rubber tubing.

By the 1900s, dentists had started using metal bands which were wrapped around the individual’s teeth with the help of wire to create the required tension.

This method was popularly used for a very long period, and it was only in the 1970s that when orthodontist made reforms to their braces and used smaller brackets in place of the metal bands.

This was mainly possible due to the new kind of adhesive that was just invented during the time. This is the same practice that is used even today, although many orthodontists have started using invisible retainers made out of plastic.

braces parts

Parts of Braces

Parts of the Braces

Given their popularity, it is quite natural to have a curiosity as to what are braces actually made of? The following section may throw some light on the subject.

1. Brackets

These are the attachments that allow the pressure to be transferred directly to the teeth. Brackets are the most common part of braces, having small, square-shaped pieces, which are affixed chemically on the tooth surfaces with the aid of orthodontic bands.


There are several compositions available for brackets, including ceramics and metals. Each bracket consists of several slots that are useful for supporting and holding the archwire. The brackets also have hooks that have the utility to attach rubber bands.

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2. Bands

Bands or commonly known as orthodontics bands are metal rings that help to secure the orthodontic attachments to the desired position. They fit in the molars or around the back teeth. An individual needs orthodontist help to determine the bands and ensure custom fit with certain dental instruments.

The band consists of a welded metal attachments, which allows for archwire to pass through them. Traditional bands are usually made of stainless steel, and they look conspicuous compared to ceramic braces as ceramic braces have different transparency levels that make them more popular today. Bands attached to teeth with specific dental cement.

3. Archwire

This is the main wire that holds the brackets together, made of metal and shaped explicitly to fit the brackets on the teeth.

The archwire is adjusted to provide the necessary pressure of the teeth that encourages repositioning to achieve the desired alignment. During the process of adjustment of teeth, the wires will often be replaced to get a greater movement.

4. Coil Springs

These are used in between brackets and help to create tension. Coil springs are needed when teeth are too close together.

The method is to position the spiral over the archwire to provide enough pressure for the adjustment of the teeth, which in turn creates the gap between the teeth and opens space.

5. Ligature

It is made of thin wire and holds the archwire to the brackets. These ties commonly come in silver, or clear, and in various colors available. Orthodontists will replace the ligatures whenever the braces require orthodontic adjustment.

6. Orthodontic Headgear

This device is attached to the back of the teeth for anchorage and modifying growth and movement. In case of braces alone is not enough to correct the teeth in a better position, this is where the orthodontist will suggest you to apply a headgear as a complement to dental care.

Created for wearing outside the mouth, and gives the sufficient power to guide the growth of the jaw and move the teeth correctly.

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7. Headgear Tube

This is a round hollow tube for placing the inner bow of the headgear. Headgear tubes, whenever required, usually found in the upper molar bands which are used to hold the headgear position in place.

8. Bonds

These are seals made using orthodontic cement and used for attaching the brackets in their place. The orthodontist will place the bonding cement on the back side of the braces, which are then place them onto the teeth.

To complete the dental treatment, the brackets are placed onto the teeth in a very precise position, then clean up the excess bonding cement.

9. Elastics

Elastics or commonly known as rubber bands are connected to the upper ball hook and molar for moving the teeth in the desired direction.

They are used to prevent open space between teeth or when there is a possibility of narrow space. During treatment, they are usually replaced whenever the adjustment is made.

10. Hooks

These are used for attaching the elastics to the brackets. As previously said that elastics help move the teeth in the final position.

Elastics should be replaced by the patient, at least once a day, otherwise, it will extend the dental treatment time.

11. Elastic Tie

This helps to keep the archwire in its place. For a better appearance, there are several elastic ties come in numerous colors for one can choose.

Final words:

Along with advances and improvements in dentistry and orthodontics today, many adults take the extra step of getting braces as well which are generally dominated by children in the past.

They realize that braces are imperative to correct longstanding dental problems such as occlusion or simply to improve their appearance.

Therefore, people of any ages can pick up one of the dental braces from the many options available which appropriate with their choice to make their teeth corrected.

Ultimately, this option not only gives a beautiful smile but more than that it also provides health benefits along with straight teeth and correct bite.

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