When you think of ways to straighten your teeth, braces are likely the first thing that pops into your head. But how exactly does this set of metal wires, brackets, and bands move teeth into the right position?
Parts of Braces
Traditional braces are made up of a few different parts, which all work together to correct the position of your teeth. The brackets are small pieces of metal that create the base of the braces on each tooth. The brackets anchor the other parts of the braces to help guide your teeth into their correct positions. The archwire runs between each bracket to create the pressure needed to move the teeth into the right position, and elastic bands connect the archwire to the brackets to keep everything securely in place (except with self-ligating braces, which don’t require elastic bands).
Why Teeth Can Be Moved by Braces
So, how exactly do all of these parts move your teeth into the right position? The key to the way braces work lies in how the teeth are placed inside the jaw. Rather than actually being attached directly to the jaw bone, teeth are suspended in the jaw bone. Each tooth remains separated from the jaw bone by surrounding ligaments, which are layers of tissue similar in texture and density to stiff rubber. This provides each tooth a slight amount of give, which you can experience yourself by gently pressing on any of your teeth.
Each tooth has this layer of tissue surrounding it, which is surrounded by the jaw bone on every side. This structure is what allows baby teeth to come out and for adult teeth to erupt in their place, and it also makes orthodontic adjustments possible.
How Braces Move Teeth
As pressure is generated on a tooth, it starts to slowly compress against one side of the ligaments and jaw bone. This elastic compression starts to gradually eat away at the jaw bone on that side while the other side of the ligament experiences elastic expansion. To get back to an equilibrium of pressure, the body will naturally build more bone deposits on the other side of the tooth, surrounding it with a solid base that helps keep the tooth in its new position.
The actual structure of the braces, where the archwire connects to the brackets, creates points of leverage, which allows the archwire to generate pressure that pushes or pulls each tooth into its new position.
Why Orthodontic Treatment Takes So Long
While it may seem like this process takes forever, it’s intentionally drawn out for several reasons. For one thing, trying to make the process faster would cause a great deal of discomfort and could possibly even cause damage to your jaw and teeth. The slow process actually helps make the corrections possible at all. The gentle pressure allows for continued blood flow to the jaw and teeth, which is necessary for both overall health and for the bone deposits to form.
If you want to learn more about how different types of orthodontic treatments work and how you could benefit from them, contact Smith Orthodontics today to schedule your free consultation.