How do Braces Really Work? (The Science Behind Orthodontics)


Today it’s very common to see children, teenagers, and adults wearing braces. Most people know that braces are all about straightening your teeth and correcting your bite, but few people know how they actually work.

In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons someone would get braces, along with how braces work and the different components that work together to straighten teeth.

Reasons to get braces

Because braces require a financial investment, many people question whether or not they actually need braces. But if your bite isn’t right, braces will provide several important improvements for your life.

First, if you have an abnormal bite, braces can correct this. Not only will orthodontic work improve the way your smile looks, but it will also improve the way your bite functions. Having a bad bite (also called malocclusion) can cause problems for years to come. A bad bite can lead to excess pressure to specific teeth, causing them to chip or break. It can also create tension and pain in the jaw.

Having a good bite, therefore, is essential to a healthy looking smile, reducing tooth damage, and preventing jaw problems.

Second, braces can also correct crooked teeth. Once again, there is a cosmetic benefit to correcting crooked teeth, but there are also benefits to your oral health. Crooked teeth can affect speech and create pockets of space around your gums that hold excess plaque and expedite tooth decay or tooth loss.

As you can see, braces play an important role in both cosmetic issues and oral health issues. Investing in braces now can prevent decades of problems later. Although crooked teeth and abnormal bites often go together, they don’t always.

If you or your child simply has an abnormal bite, you may not even notice, which is why it is important to check with an orthodontist before jaw pains or other issues develop.

How do braces work?

Put simply, braces straighten your teeth and align your bite. This can be accomplished in a few different ways. Here at Chattahoochee Family Orthodontics, we offer traditional metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign® Teen trays, and more. Each case is different and we take pride in developing treatment plans tailored to each patient’s unique needs.

Traditional braces work by simply applying the right amount of pressure to realign teeth. They consist of several different components, described below, that are designed to move your teeth into the ideal location.

Common components of braces

Brackets: These are small squares that we bond directly to the front of each tooth. Each bracket holds the arch wire (described below) that move the teeth. Brackets are available in stainless steel and tooth-colored ceramic or plastic, which some prefer because they blend in better with the teeth.

Arch wire: This is the wire that attaches to the brackets and guides the movement of the teeth. They are typically made of metal, and pull the teeth in the right direction to become straight.

Orthodontic bands: These bands wrap around certain teeth (typically molars) to provide an anchor for the brackets and arch wire. They are also cemented to the teeth to ensure a strong hold. Although common, they are not used in all patients as some only require brackets without bands.

Spacers: These do exactly what they say they do; they fit between your teeth and create space so that we can later fit the orthodontic bands in between the teeth.

Ligatures: These are small rubber rings or bands that fasten the arch wire to the brackets. Depending on your preference, they can be clear or colored.

Elastics: These rubberbands attach to hooks on brackets and connect the upper and lower teeth. These are important for correcting one’s bite; they apply pressure to move the teeth to achieve a perfect fit and a good bite.

Bringing it all together

Every child is different and therefore every treatment is different. Your child may only need small adjustments with a few components over several months, or they may require several years and styles of treatment. Whatever the case, here at Chattahoochee Family Orthodontics, we take great pride in meeting each child’s needs and giving them a great smile.

Although braces are an investment of both time and money, they play an important role in creating a lasting smile. Having good teeth not only looks good, but is important for your child’s health. Braces can help prevent long-term dental problems like tooth decay, jaw soreness, and chipped teeth.

If your child is over the age of 7 and hasn’t seen an orthodontist, we recommend you schedule an appointment soon. The earlier we begin treatment, the easier the treatment will be.

If you’re in the Cumming, Hamilton Mill, or Suwanee Georgia area, then we recommend you contact us and schedule an appointment today. We will examine your child’s teeth to determine if and when action is required, building a treatment plan that benefits your child for years to come.