The evidence is undeniable: braces are an essential element of modern dental care. Not only do braces improve the appearance of a smile, but they also help to idealize the bite, resulting in healthy chewing and functioning. Straight teeth may also help to prevent cavities by making brushing and flossing more effective.
If you have been considering orthodontic treatment but still have questions regarding how the procedure works, then this post is for you.
Before addressing how orthodontics work, we must first address what orthodontic treatment can accomplish. Orthodontics can help in:
- Closing wide gaps between the teeth
- Making sure the edges and tips of the teeth are aligned
- Straightening crooked teeth
- Improving speech or eating (oral function)
- Improving the long-term health of gums and teeth
- Preventing long-term, excessive wear or trauma of the teeth
- Treating an improper bite
Clearly, there are quite a few benefits to gain by pursuing a healthy smile through orthodontics. Once your teeth are in their proper positions, you will be able to better talk, eat, smile, and maintain good oral health. But how does orthodontics work?
Understanding the Basics
Standard braces have four basic components: brackets, bands, arch wires, and ties (also called the “o-ring”). Brackets are affixed directly to the tooth via a bonding material (such as glue) or a metal band. The shape and size of the tooth determines which sort of bond (bracket or band) is used.
Next, thin arch wires run from bracket to bracket, creating a system capable of exerting pressure on the teeth. Sometimes springs or other components are placed on the arch wires in order to push, pull, or otherwise create pressure between teeth.
Once the wires have been run through the brackets, they are held in place via small circular elastics (the familiar braces “colors”). The teeth move when external pressure is exerted on them through this system.
Braces Affect What Lies Beneath
When braces exert pressure on the teeth, it is not just the teeth that are affected. The teeth are able to maintain a changed position because of a process called bone remodeling.
As braces put pressure on teeth, the periodontal membrane under the gums shifts as well, either stretching or contracting. Through this system, the teeth are slightly loosened. Once the teeth are in their proper position, the bone can then rebuild and remodel around the tooth to support its new position. This procedure takes place many times through the orthodontic process until your teeth have reached their target locations.
Sometimes a person’s particular needs require additional appliances in order to ensure full success of orthodontic treatment. Additional appliances used in orthodontic treatment may include the following:
Temporary Anchorage Devices (TADs): mini-screws used temporarily to apply extra pressure to teeth.
Rubber Bands (also called Elastics): used to apply force to teeth, helping to improve the fit or bite of the teeth.
Additional appliances such as HERBSTs and palatal expanders (or RPEs) may be used to help facilitate jaw growth, treat a crossbite or improve the fit of the upper and lower teeth.
After braces are removed, the process is not complete. Because everything in nature tends toward disorder, the teeth often desire to return to their previous state. To that end, Lampros & Reopelle Orthodontics always fit their patients with retainers to be worn after braces are removed. Some retainers are removable, and others are fixed, but all of them help to protect your investment and keep your smile in top shape.
Although pursuing a healthier smile through orthodontic treatment may seem daunting at first, the truth is that nothing could be simpler. Your investment in time and effort will be well worth it in the end.
If you have questions or comments about orthodontic treatment or any of our other services, please do not hesitate to contact us at (540) 344-2758. Lampros & Reopelle Orthodontics looks forward to helping you achieve your best smile.