How Braces Work: Key Concept


Braces, for many decades, continue to be effective, reliable, and safe orthodontic appliances that allow carefully correcting defects in the position in the upper and lower teeth. It is most effective to use braces during adolescence when the bite is still forming. Despite the temporary aesthetic inconvenience when wearing braces, they will result in a beautiful smile.

The main secret of the braces’ effectiveness lies in the ability of orthodontic arches to return teeth to their normal position. Adjusting archwires apply constant moderate pressure on the braces themselves, which leads to a correction of the dentition. The mechanism of occlusion correction is based on the so-called metal arch shape memory.

Types of Dental Braces

The braces are fixed to the teeth using a particular material (glue). An arch inserts into the bracket groove, and a ligature (either metal or rubber) ties it to the braces. The correction is required on average once a month. The duration of treatment is individual, depending on the pathology.

Self-ligating (ligature-free) appliances consist of a cap and a groove or a clip and a groove. Wearing ligature-free orthodontic appliances reduces significantly the time required for treatment. Other advantages of self-ligating braces include ease of oral care and a shorter adaptation period.

In self-ligating braces, the archwire is passive; it is held with a cap applying minimal pressure. Self-ligating braces require adjustment not more than once every 6-8 weeks.

Both types of orthodontic structures are made of ceramics (polycrystalline aluminum), metal; ligating braces can also be made of lab-created sapphire.

Why Might a Person Need Braces?

Braces are recommended to be placed in the following cases as one of the best ways to achieve an aesthetic smile:

  • teeth crowding, expressed by their overlapping each other;
  • abnormally wide gaps between the teeth;
  • a gap between the two front upper teeth;
  • narrow jaws in the lateral areas;
  • labially or lingually inclined teeth;
  • malocclusion, excessive protrusion of the lower or upper jaw;
  • displacement of teeth that are located laterally.

Each of the mentioned dental problems can be invisible to the person and the people around or visible, significantly affecting a person’s self-esteem and psychological state. It is crucial to place braces at the right time in case of malocclusion since such an anomaly can cause a number of the following complications:

  1. Digestion disorders caused by insufficient mechanical processing of food in the oral cavity.
  2. Loss, chipping, and abrasion of teeth.
  3. Development of carious lesions against the background of complicated and poor oral hygiene.
  4. Problems may arise due to potential dental prostheses.
  5. Uneven distribution of the chewing force due to malocclusion often leads to traumatic damage to soft tissues, the development of gingivitis, periodontal disease, and other subsequent gum problems.

Not only children and adolescents wear braces, but adults too. The only difference lies in the pathology correction opportunity. The active growth of the jaws stops when a person is about 16-18 years old, so it is preferable to perform the correction before this age. To adjust minor malocclusion defects in adulthood, it may take from 4-6 months to 1 year, but more often, the treatment takes about two years, depending on the severity of the pathology.

Besides, if there is not enough space to restore the typical appearance of the dentition, then to create additional space, a doctor may decide to remove some teeth. If correction is required in adulthood, it will take more time to fix the result obtained after removing the braces.

How Are Braces Put On?

The entire stage of installing braces for adults and children begins with preliminary preparation. At the preparation stage, the following activities are carried out:

  1. Conversation of the dentist with the patient or with the patient’s parents if the patient is a child.
  2. X-ray examination (teleradiography, panoramic x-ray) or computed tomography, if necessary. Diagnostic casts.
  3. Based on the patient preferences (if it is an adult) and based on information obtained from examining the oral cavity, the type of braces is selected.
  4. The doctor carries out the full mouth debridement, removes dental deposits, carries out the dental filling procedure (if needed), and performs the treatment of all pathologies of the gums or oral mucosa.

After completing the preliminary preparation, the braces are placed. This stage includes the following issues:

  • thorough cleaning of teeth from the remains of plaque and saliva;
  • treatment of the teeth surface with an acidic solution, which does not destroy the enamel, but improves its adhesive properties;
  • dental glue is applied to the surface of the teeth, which allows the braces to be fixed;
  • the doctor fixes the braces, one unit for each tooth;
  • excess adhesive dental glue is removed, but no space remains under the braces;
  • to achieve the effect of solidification of dental glue, curing light is applied;
  • at the final stage, the archwires, which will actively participate in teeth position adjustment, are threaded into the braces.

After completing the placement procedure, the patient is interviewed about the peculiarities of caring for orthodontic constructions, and a follow-up visit to the dentist is scheduled.

How Long Do Braces Take?

If orthodontic appliances were placed in childhood or adolescence, and the defects of the teeth were minor, then the full correction may take less than one year. With significant defects, a child or teenager will need more time to wear braces. On average, treatment can take from 1.5-2 years.

If the system is placed in adulthood, the time length for wearing braces depends on the individual features of the patient’s dentition and the severity of the defects. Adult patients need 2-2.5 years to correct the defects and about 1-1.5 years to fix the result.

At the next follow-up visit to the orthodontist, a decision is made to replace the archwires and other auxiliary materials. The archwires do not require replacement every visit.

After placing an orthodontic appliance, to maintain their functional state and keep the oral cavity healthy, it is necessary to follow these simple recommendations:

  1. Regularly visit the dentist within the indicated time frame.
  2. Brush your teeth or use an irrigator after each meal. This condition does not depend on the amount of food eaten since even small food particles create favorable conditions for caries and infectious processes.
  3. It is necessary to clean the teeth from all sides, as cleaning only the outer side will lead to food getting under the braces and destroying tooth enamel.
  4. Any, even a minor system breakdown is a reason for contacting your dentist. It is unacceptable to try to fix constructions on your own.
  5. Standard, monobunched, and V-shaped toothbrushes are required to clean the braces.

It is forbidden to eat food that is too cold or too hot at the entire stage of wearing braces, bite off too hard food, eat gummy or sticky food, caramel, and chewing gums.

Special aligners or non-removable retainers are indicated to fix the result after removing the braces.