You’ll probably remember the traditional braces that many had to endure in school, but do you know how teeth braces work?
Braces technology has come a long way in the past decade or so, but the principles behind it remain the same: a special appliance is used to straighten some of all of your teeth. It uses your body’s ability to grow new bone around your teeth, which works like this:
Your teeth are surrounded by gum tissue.
Under the gum tissue, the periodontal ligament surrounds the bottom portion of the tooth, attaching the root to your jaw bone.
When braces put pressure on your teeth, the periodontal ligament stretches on one side of the root and is compressed on the other. This loosens the tooth, allowing new bone to grow to support it in its new position in the jaw. This is called bone remodelling.
This process, applied over the period of time that you are wearing your braces, allows the teeth to safely be moved into alignment, giving you a new, straighter smile!
So now we know the biology behind orthodontics, let’s find out some more about how braces work to make that happen.
Brackets & wire
You’ll probably have seen classic ‘train-track’ braces, but how does all that metal work together to straighten your teeth?
These types of ‘bracket & wire’ braces have four main components:
The brackets are the metal or ceramic parts of the brace that are most obvious (unless they’re attached behind the teeth). They are attached to the teeth that are to be moved with a bonding material or metal band.
These are usually some type of glue or a metal band that attaches the brackets to your teeth.
The arch wire is the ‘force’ that acts on the teeth. This will be a thin metal wire that is threaded through the brackets attached to your teeth.
These are made of special materials that retain their shape and get stiffer when subjected to mild heat (around the temperature in your mouth).
It is this ‘stiffening’ of the arch wire, along with the tension applied by bands, that gently moves your teeth into their new position.
Although not used for all types of braces, often small rubber band ties are used to help keep the arch wire fixed to the brackets.
You may have heard of Invisalign, or ‘almost invisible’ braces. These are a relatively new type of brace, designed particularly for people with only a minor need for orthodontics, who don’t want to be seen with braces. One of the key benefits is that there’s no surgery whatsoever - you just wear a specially-fitted aligner (similar to a mouthguard).
These aligners are made from a unique plastic made specially for Invisalign.
First your dentist takes a special mould and photograph of your mouth, and then uses specialist computer software to map out how your teeth will be straightened. These are sent off to a lab, where your aligners will be created.
Over the course of your treatment, you will be given a new aligner set around every one to two weeks. Each aligner is designed to move your teeth a little bit closer to the desired position.
Over the course of several weeks, your teeth will gradually become straighter. Depending on your teeth, Invisalign treatment rarely takes more than a year for adults.
How to choose which braces are right for you
Naturally, most people want to have braces that are barely noticeable, but this may not always be possible.
Everyone is different, so treatment should be tailored to meet each individual’s needs. For example, many people find that they will not get the results they want with Invisalign if their teeth are severely out of line.
In the same way, full bracket-and-wire braces may not be necessary for some smiles.
The best way to find out which braces are right for you is to have a consultation with a trained specialist orthodontist. They will be able to examine your teeth and advise you on which type of treatment is suitable for your situation.
At Elmsleigh House, our Specialist in orthodontics, Kostas Spathoulas, offers an extensive range of bespoke brace solutions for all ages.
Dentist Cathleen Perrin also offers anterior alignment orthodontics to quickly straighten most adults’ teeth.
Dentist Sarah Francis also offers Invisalign braces, a discreet and removable solution for most adults.
Click below to book a consultation that best suits your needs.