Thanks to advancements in the science of orthodontics, there are now several excellent options to bring crooked teeth into alignment and perfect a smile with braces. If you’re considering getting braces for yourself or your child, here’s a helpful primer on the different types and how they straighten crooked teeth.
Components of Traditional Braces
Traditional braces have come a long way in recent years, and they’re smaller and more comfortable than ever before. Most have three main components:
- Brackets that are attached to the front of each tooth with a bonding adhesive
- A thin but stiff archwire that’s attached to each bracket to apply steady pressure to the teeth and guide them into the correct position
- Ligature elastic ties that are used to keep the archwire attached to the brackets
The most common type of traditional braces are made from high-quality stainless steel, and they’re also the most cost-effective option for children, teens and adults. They’re often paired with colored elastic ties for a fun look.
Clear Ceramic Braces
Braces with clear ceramic brackets are a newer alternative to metal. Ceramic braces are less visible because they’re clear, but they’re also larger and more brittle, so they require extra care and attention to hygiene. For these reasons, ceramic braces are typically recommended for older teens and adults, and they’re often placed on the upper front teeth rather than the lower teeth.
Self-ligating braces are one of the latest advancements in orthodontic technology. These braces have smaller, more comfortable brackets equipped with built-in clips to hold the archwire in place, so there’s no need for ligature elastic ties.
How Traditional Braces Work to Realign Crooked Teeth
All of the above types of braces work in the same way. The archwire puts constant pressure on the brackets to slowly move crooked teeth into the proper position.
That steady pressure is actually moving the periodontal ligament that’s beneath the gum line — stretching it on one side of the tooth and compressing it on the other — which loosens the tooth. Over time, the bone behind the ligament fills in to support the tooth through a process known as bone remodeling.
Unless you have self-ligating braces, ligature elastic ties are used to exert more force to move a tooth in a specific direction. In some cases, springs are used instead of the elastics, and headgear may be used for some adults to keep certain teeth from moving.
If you opt for traditional braces, you’ll come in for a checkup every four to six weeks to have the elastic ties replaced and/or the archwires tightened. Although every treatment plan is different, traditional braces are typically worn for one to three years.
Invisalign Braces and How They Work
Instead of brackets, wires and elastic ties, a series of retainer-like plastic trays called aligners are used to put steady pressure on your teeth and gradually shift them into proper position.
After an impression is taken of your teeth, the doctor has Invisalign customize your series of trays — each one is designed to move your teeth about 1/10mm over a two-week period.
Although you’ll need to wear it 20 to 22 hours a day, the aligner is virtually invisible and hardly noticeable. There are no food restrictions either, because you take the aligner out to eat and drink, and the average treatment period is just 12 months.
If you’d like to schedule a free consultation to learn how you can enhance your smile with braces, contact us today at Kapadia Orthodontics!