Modern orthodontics has seen a number of innovative new technologies in recent years, but traditional braces are still one of the best tools we have for creating straighter, healthier smiles for patients of all ages. Today’s braces are a far cry from earlier versions and designed to be more durable, affordable, and comfortable than ever before, so it’s no wonder braces remain the top orthodontic treatment year after year.
If you’ve made the decision to move forward with braces treatment here at Krieger Orthodontics, we’re excited to work with you on improving your oral health and achieving a beautiful smile! You may have some questions and concerns before beginning, however, especially if you aren’t sure what to expect from the process.
We appreciate the trust you’ve placed in our team and want you to feel confident in the choice you’ve made to pursue orthodontic treatment. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you learn everything you need to know before getting your braces put on. Let’s take a closer look at what braces are, how they work, and what you can do to get the most out of them!
What are braces made of?
As an informed patient, you’ll be an active participant in your own treatment plan. To understand how braces work, it helps to know more about what they’re composed of. There are several moving parts involved in aligning your teeth, but we’ll go over some of the most important ones below.
Brackets are the part of braces that we attach directly to your teeth. They’re typically made from a mix of stainless steel, nickel, ceramic, or other high-quality materials, so they’re very durable. Brackets have tiny hooks or doors over which the wire is threaded, and are secured by closing the door or by applying an elastic over the top of the wire.
Tooth glue is technically a form of the same composite bonding material that we use for tooth-colored fillings or sealants. This adhesive is used to attach the brackets to the teeth. In some cases, we may use metal bands on the back teeth in conjunction with the glue to give braces more leverage and stability.
This thin piece of metal runs from one bracket to another, and the changes in its shape and curvature are what prompt the teeth to move where we want them to go. With some patients, the wire will attach all the bottom or upper teeth together. For others, we may choose to cut the wire strategically if connecting only a few teeth makes more sense for the treatment plan.
Although most patients will need elastics at some point in their treatment plan, they’re essential for patients in need of bite correction. The elastics are usually strung between an upper bracket hook and a lower bracket hook, pulling the upper teeth back to correct an overbite, or the lower teeth backward to correct an underbite. We use rubber bands for many different situations, but they can be especially useful for bringing the upper and lower teeth together successfully.
These stainless steel rings are cemented to the teeth using dental bonding agents to provide an anchor for braces and other orthodontic appliances. We won’t need to use them with every patient.
How do braces work?
Dr. Krieger will create a customized treatment plan for you that includes information on how each tooth needs to be moved in order to get it in the most optimal position. The brackets will be placed on your teeth using this information, and once they’ve been attached, the wire will be inserted. We use bends in the wire to encourage specific and precise movements, with each bend providing a different type of pressure on different teeth. This process of tooth movement is called remodeling and involves minor changes in the bone that surrounds the roots of teeth.
When braces begin to put pressure on the tooth, cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts form around the tooth’s root. The pressure of the wire then works with these osteoblasts and osteoclasts to create a negative pressure on one side of the tooth. At this site, bone is removed. On the other side of the tooth, bone is reformed. This pressure and remodeling is what slowly moves each tooth into the desired position.
This remodeling process can only occur if constant pressure is put on the teeth. Once your braces are removed, that pressure stops and your teeth will begin to settle into their new positions. But without that constant pressure, most teeth will eventually start drifting back to their old positions. This is why you’ll always hear us talk about how important retainers, and why we provide you with one as soon as your braces come off! When you wear this retainer as directed by Dr. Krieger, it will help keep your new smile in place and prevent any natural drifting.
Caring for your braces
Learning to properly care for your braces can take a little patience and practice, but you’ll be a pro in no time! We recommend you brush your teeth thoroughly at least two times each day with fluoride toothpaste, especially after eating and before bed. You should pay careful attention to the areas between the brackets and gums, and carefully clean between the wires and teeth. If you find this part difficult, try using an interdental brush to remove any hard-to-reach plaque and food debris.
Flossing is another essential part of maintaining oral health, especially when you’re in braces. It should be done at least once per day, preferably before bedtime. Some patients find it hard to floss effectively with braces and use floss threaders or an oral irrigator like a Waterpik to remove food particles and plaque. Just remember, these supplemental tools should never take the place of a regular brushing and flossing routine!
Food restrictions can be one of the biggest learning curves with braces. Although they can be frustrating, especially in the beginning, they’re necessary to protect both your braces and your teeth. As long as you’re in braces, you’ll need to avoid anything that’s too crunchy or too chewy, including things like chips, ice, gum, some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, and many types of candy.
Remember: food restrictions are only temporary! All your hard work and dedication will pay off as soon as we remove your braces and you see your beautiful new smile for the first time.
Treatment times vary from patient to patient
There’s no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to treatment times, because every smile is unique, and each patient will respond to treatment in their own way. Several factors come into play, including what the specific issue is, the severity of a case, and how compliant the patient is. On average, however, the active stage of orthodontic treatment tends to last anywhere from 6-24 months. This could be longer or shorter for you, depending on your particular case.
Get the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted with Krieger Orthodontics
The first step in any orthodontic journey is an initial consultation. Krieger Orthodontics is proud to offer this first visit for FREE! If you’re in Carrollton, The Colony, Lewisville, or any of the surrounding communities, we’d love to meet you and share more about what braces have to offer your smile. Get in touch today to schedule your complimentary consultation and let’s get started on the smile you’ve always dreamed of – and deserve!