Have you ever wondered what those braces you wear every day are actually doing to your teeth? What is the science behind how you get those straight teeth?
Before your braces were placed, you might have had a large gap, or overbite or underbite, and wondered how in the world your orthodontist might be able to fix that. Orthodontic treatment seems to work miracles, but how are those amazing results achieved?
Your braces have a few main components that work together to give you that gorgeous grin.
First are the brackets, the metal portion of the braces that get attached to each individual tooth. Bonding material holds the brackets in place during the course of your treatment.
Attached over the brackets will be the archwires. These are thin pieces of metal that apply the pressure needed to move the teeth. They guide the teeth in the right direction to correct your orthodontic issue.
The o-rings, or ligature elastics, are changed each time your braces are tightened. These are the colorful parts of the braces you’re probably familiar with.
The elastics are the tiny rubber bands used if you have an overbite or under bit. These add additional pressure to direct the teeth to their ideal locations.
Over the course of your treatment, all of these pieces of the braces work together to actually loosen and move your teeth. The pressure created by the wire and elastics works to cause the surrounding membrane on one side of your teeth to expand while the other constricts. That helps the teeth to actually loosen from the gumline as they move to their new spots. The bone will then grow back to support their new locations. The archwire will act as the “track,” meaning your teeth will take the shape of the wire.
Braces work to slowly and gradually move your teeth. This is important, because if the movement happened too rapidly, you could risk your teeth actually falling out. Once your teeth have reached their ideal locations, the bone and membrane slowly grow back to support this new position.
This movement of your teeth is called bone remodeling. With the average patient, this process begins about three days after the braces are placed. Then, it takes about 3 months for new bone to grow. It can then take around a year to stabilize the results. That’s why orthodontic treatment takes as long as it does – to ensure your teeth move at a gradual enough pace to keep the teeth and bones healthy, and then to ensure that there is plenty of time for new bone to grow around and stabilize your new smile. This is also why you have to wear a retainer once your braces come off.
The amount of time you spend in braces will probably vary from your friends and family who have worn braces. That’s because your teeth move at a rate unique to you, and your bone regrows at a rate unique to you. You can never compare your case to someone else’s, even if you both have the same orthodontic issue.
If you have any questions about how your braces are working during your treatment, don’t hesitate to ask your orthodontist. He or she should always be willing to address any concerns you may have.
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