Before we thoroughly explore how braces are supposed to work, it’s important to understand what braces are. Braces are a device that Orthodontists use them to straighten people’s teeth. They are also used to correct people’s bites and to fix teeth that might be irregular. Braces have three primary parts: a bracket, bonding and a wire (called the arch wire) and a band. Brackets are fixed to the teeth with the bonding. A wire is run through them. The wire gets secured with a very small rubber band.
Brackets and arch wires work in concert to move teeth from their starting positions into healthier positions. This can help correct a person’s bite. It can straighten the teeth. It can close gaps. There are a lot of things this method can fix. The arch wire places pressure on the bracket which is then distributed throughout each tooth. The orthodontist uses the arch wire to aim the teeth toward their new and healthier spots in a person’s mouth. When your teeth have pressure exerted onto them, the membrane around the roots of the tooth will expand on one side and squeeze shut on the other. This helps loosen the tooth in the gums. After the tooth stops moving, bone and membrane will grow to help hold the tooth in its new location. It is important to move the teeth slowly or the patient could lose them forever. That’s why most people end up wearing braces for at least two (though sometimes two and a half) years and only go in for adjustments every month or so.
This method works because the arch wire is a wire that wants to keep its shape and can exert a lot of force to make that happen. The material used to construct an arch wire gets stiffer when it is exposed to a human being’s natural body heat. This combination of heat and stubbornness are how the wire puts enough pressure on your teeth to get them to move.
Braces, though, do not do the work all by themselves. An Orthodontist may put rubber bands in your mouth to manipulate the wire’s pressure. This can pull teeth in the right direction. Sometimes a patient will have to wear headgear. Headgear will keep some teeth where they are, while letting others move to new positions…and keeps everything in the correct alignment along the way.
Braces are usually followed up by the retainer. This is usually worn for as long as ten months after you have your braces taken off. It keeps your teeth where they need to be until the bones grow in enough to keep them there.