The shifting of teeth: How orthodontics really works

How does orthodontics work?

The evidence is undeniable: braces are an essential element of modern dental care. Not only do braces improve the appearance of the smile, but they also prevent dental caries (cavities) by making regular brushings and cleanings 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 intervention attempts to do. Orthodontics is a multi-purpose discipline with multiple reasons for use, such as:

  • Closing wide gaps between the teeth
  • Making sure the tips of the teeth are aligned
  • Straightening crooked teeth
  • To improve speech or eating (oral function)
  • To improve the long-term health of gums and teeth
  • To prevent long-term excessive wear or trauma (of the teeth)
  • Treating an improper bite

Clearly, there are quite a few benefits to gain through pursuing a healthy smile through orthodontics. Once your teeth are in their proper positions, you will be better able to talk, eat, smile, and maintain good oral health. But how does orthodontics work?

Understanding the basics of orthodontics

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 is used.

Next, thin arch wires run from bracket to bracket, creating a system capable of exerting pressure on the teeth. Sometimes springs 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 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 grow around the tooth in support of its new position. This procedure takes place many times through the orthodontic process until your teeth have reached their target locations.

Additional appliances

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.
  • Additional appliances such as HERBST and RPE may be used.

After removal

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, Fredericksburg Orthodontics always fits 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. Fredericksburg Orthodontics looks forward to helping you achieve your best smile.

Check out our blog.