Braces have been used for decades as a method of realigning a person’s teeth over a period of weeks or months. They can be used to treat a range of dental issues related to misaligned teeth, but how do braces work?
There are three core parts of traditional braces:
When a patient is having races fitted, the brackets are bonded to the teeth. The arch wire is used to connect the brackets, and it’s secured in place with a small rubber band. The brackets and wire work together to gradually move the teeth from their current position into the desired location.
Braces can be used to correct issues with a patients bite, such as an overbite or underbite, it can be used to close gaps in a smile or it can be used to straighten teeth. The arch wire is run through the brackets and tightened to exert a small amount of pressure on the teeth, which will gradually pull them into position.
When light pressure is applied consistently to the teeth, the membrane which surrounds the tooth root will close on one side and expand on the other. This allows the tooth to be loosened in the gums. Once this pressure is released (after the treatment is complete), the tooth will be secured in place as bone and membrane grow around it.
It’s vital that teeth are only moved very gradually, or it can place the patient at risk of losing the tooth permanently. Orthodontic treatments usually last for several months, with some people wearing braces for upwards of 2 years. This usually involves a regular visit to the orthodontist to have the braces adjusted every month or so.
The thought of wearing braces for such a long time can often put people off seeking treatment for their alignment issues, particularly adults who are concerned about the effect it will have on their appearance. There are several modern alternatives to braces which can work well for correcting certain issues.
One of the more popular alternatives is Invisalign, which is a set of (almost) invisible retainers which work to gradually realign the teeth. The patient has a set of retainers made using 3D printing, and a new retainer is used every 2 weeks as the teeth gradually move into position. The results are impressive, and the retainers have almost no impact on appearance or the ability to eat or drink as normal.
There are plenty of options available now for those looking to correct alignment issues with their teeth, but they all adhere to the same basic principle. The teeth are gradually pulled into position by the device until the teeth are in the desired position.