How Do Braces Move Teeth Anyway?

At Bel Air Orthodontics, we hear this question all the time, so we thought we'd give you an overview of how braces work.

Tooth movement is your body's natural response to continuous, light pressure applied by braces over a period of time. As the teeth move, the bone changes shape as pressure is applied.

Traditional orthodontic treatment works when we attach braces and their components onto your teeth. Braces may consist of brackets, bands, wires and other fixed or removable corrective appliances.

Brackets are the small squares that are bonded directly to the front of each tooth. Brackets act like handles, holding the arch wires that move the teeth. These wires are held in place by small elastic ties that fit around the brackets. As time passes during your treatment, these wires apply pressure on your teeth, which sets in motion the movement of your teeth into their desired positions.

When you first get your braces, the initial wire or two will typically be very flexible, but still strong enough to apply a constant force on your teeth. As your teeth straighten out over  time, however, you will notice we will use progressively thicker and firmer wires to help move your teeth in place for the ideal bite.

Each time you visit our office for an adjustment, we will swap out the wires in order to maintain the right amount of pressure on your teeth. This is why it's so important for you to keep your adjustment visits during your treatment. Most adjustment appointments are scheduled four to six weeks apart to give your teeth time to move at a steady pace and allow us to assess progress and ensure we keep your treatment plan on track.

As for rubber bands (a.k.a. elastics), most of our patients will need to wear elastics at some point during their treatment. Elastics are typically placed from one or more of the upper braces to one or more of the lower braces, pulling on your teeth to move them in a direction they need to move in order to achieve an optimal bite and a beautiful smile.

Not long ago, orthodontists had a single option - stainless steel brackets and wires- and that was about it. Today, however, we offer a variety of treatment options, from traditional  brackets to nearly invisible ceramics. With new, high-tech wires at our disposal, we can now move your teeth faster and more comfortably.

If you have any questions about wires, brackets or elastics, please give us a call. ask your questions during your next regularly scheduled adjustment visit. We always here to help.