The Installation of Braces

Most people who have had braces put on have vivid memories of the “installation process.”  This is because usually having braces put on can usually take anywhere from two to three hours to put in.

Why does it take so long?

It takes a long time because the orthodontist needs to go through several steps to make sure that the brackets are placed correctly on the teeth.  Many people think that brackets are simply glued on in the middle of the teeth.  This isn’t quite true.  Where the brackets are placed does a great deal to ensure that the teeth follow the correct paths to their final placement.  This is because it isn’t the brackets that do the straightening work.  It is the arch wire.

The arch wire is designed to react to a person’s body heat and, while it gets threaded through the brackets, it is designed to return to its original shape.  This is how your teeth are moved—by the strength of the arch wire.  If the brackets are placed incorrectly, your teeth will move, but they might not end up looking the way the orthodontist wants them to look.


dental braces installation – top brackets


dental braces installation – bottom brackets

When you sit down in the orthodontist’s chair to have your braces put on, your orthodontist will take a great deal of time to make sure that each bracket is glued on correctly.  This means that, before the bonding material is sealed by the heat lamp, the bracket might get removed and placed back on a few times to ensure proper placement.

New Advancements?

According to an article released by Dentalplans.com near the end of February 2008, Dr. Al Bishop of Summit County, Colorado, has come up with a method of shaving valuable minutes off of the “installation process.”

Instead of spending time in front of the patient putting on the brackets, Dr. Bishop uses a three dimensional computer model of the patient’s teeth to determine where the brackets should go.  When he is satisfied that the brackets are in the proper position, he sends a copy of the 3-D model to the patient.  The patient looks over the model and works with Dr. Bishop to figure out if any corrections need to be made to Dr. Bishop’s plan.

Once the placement has been finalized on the model, Dr. Bishop uses the model to create a tray that pre-places the brackets.  The orthodontist then simply takes the brackets from the tray and fixes them to the patient’s teeth.   Using this method, orthodontists were able to cut down the “installation time” to thirty minutes.

The orthodontic community has not yet widely begun to use Dr. Bishop’s method, but it does speak to the needs of the patient.  Often, the placing of braces is very stressful (especially if the patient is young) and this stress can be exacerbated by the length of time it takes to have the brackets put on.  If the time could be cut down from three hours to thirty minutes, it would greatly reduce the stress that the patient is put through.

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