What can I expect from today’s metal braces?
Braces are great at fixing complex tooth issues. They can work faster at closing gaps and aligning teeth than other treatments might. This can potentially shorten your treatment time.
Metal braces are a cost-effective option because they don’t require some of the more complex technology or expensive equipment that newer treatments do. The strength, durability, and affordability of traditional metal braces keep them the top treatment for orthodontic patients, year after year.
Because metal braces get right down to work, you’ll be able to see some signs of progress in a relatively short period. It may not seem like much, but sometimes seeing even a small improvement in your smile can give you an encouraging boost on your orthodontic journey.
How do braces work?
Before applying the brackets, Dr. McGrory, Dr. McCarty and our team will collect photos and X-rays of your mouth. Sometimes we’ll use our iTero Element scanner to scan each of your teeth and the layout of your gums and mouth. If necessary, this process takes 10-15 minutes and provides an extremely accurate 3D view of your mouth.
After the X-ray and optional scan, the information will be used to help create your customized treatment plan. This will include how each tooth needs to be moved to get it in the best possible position.
Your orthodontist will decide how to place the brackets based on this information. For example, if you have some teeth that need to be tilted, the placement of those brackets will be different than the placement of brackets for teeth that need to be turned.
Once the brackets have been attached, your orthodontist will insert the wire. Bends in the wire will provide different types of pressure on different teeth. A bend in the wire is how most orthodontists cause-specific and precise movements.
For example, a bend can help a tooth that is twisted to turn and face the right way or align one tooth that is too far forward with one that is too far back. This process of tooth movement is called remodeling, and it involves minor changes in the bone that surrounds the roots of your teeth.
This process is only able to occur if constant pressure is put on your tooth. As bone is absorbed on one side and then replaced on the other side, the tooth can move. Once the pressure stops – like when we remove your braces – the tooth will begin to settle into its new position.
However, most teeth will start to drift back to their old positions over time. This is why you will be given a retainer. When worn as directed, a retainer will help keep your teeth in their new, improved positions and prevent natural drifting.
What are braces made of?
The brackets are durable and made from a mix of stainless steel, nickel, and other metals. Brackets have little hooks or doors where a wire is threaded. A bracket can be secured by closing the door, or by placing an elastic over the top of the wire.
This is what Dr. McGrory or Dr. McCarty will use to attach the brackets to your teeth. It’s common to attach the bracket directly to the tooth with glue.
This thin piece of metal runs from one bracket to another. Dr. McGrory or Dr. McCarty will change the shape and curvature of the wire to move your teeth in the right direction. The wire will attach all of your bottom or upper teeth together in many cases, but we might occasionally cut the wire if connecting just a few teeth is better for your treatment plan.
If you need bite correction, elastics are essential. They are generally strung between an upper bracket hook and a lower bracket hook. This will pull the upper jaw backward to correct an overbite, or the lower jaw backward to correct an underbite. We may use rubber bands for many different situations, especially when we want to put extra pressure on the teeth or jaws.
These are stainless steel rings that are cemented to your teeth using dental bonding agents. These bands can provide an anchor for your braces and orthodontic appliances, but they are not used for everyone.
These small elastic “donuts” or rings can be used to create space in between your teeth when needed, typically before bands are placed. They are also referred to as separators.
These tiny rubber rings or bands are used to attach the archwire to the brackets. They are less rigid than spacers and come in dozens of colors.