Dental braces apply a gentle, constant pressure over time to straighten teeth. They consist of metal brackets attached to the teeth and an archwire connecting them.
The archwire is heated to body temperature and stiffens or “tightens” to create a light, constant force on the teeth. It may irritate the inside of the mouth, but over-the-counter pain relievers can help. Contact Boca Dental and Braces now!
Brackets are small, square-shaped, metallic or ceramic components glued to the front of each tooth. They are used to support archwires that push the teeth into the desired positions during orthodontic treatment. Besides aesthetics, braces can help reduce the frequency of dental cavities and improve digestion due to a more balanced bite. Braces also lower the risk of gum disease and can help prevent oral infections, which misaligned or overlapping teeth can cause.
The brackets are affixed to the teeth using a special bonding agent. The bonding agent creates a strong connection between the bracket and the tooth, so it can take on a lot of pressure without breaking. The metal brackets are available in different colors so that patients can customize their look. There are also clear brackets, which are less visible and blend in with the teeth.
Once the brackets are bonded, they must be attached to a metal wire. The wire is a key component to moving the teeth into the right position, and it helps transfer the necessary force from the archwire to the individual teeth. The wire is bent and tightened to apply consistent pressure to the teeth, and your orthodontist can change it at each appointment.
Typically, the archwire is made of stainless steel, but ceramic wires can also be used with some braces. There are also self-ligating braces that don’t need ligatures but must be tightened regularly by your orthodontist. Also, elastic ligatures and rubber bands connect the archwire to the brackets and help with movement. Your orthodontist often changes these at every visit, as they tend to lose elasticity over time.
Molar bands are often added to the brackets of molars and other back teeth that might not be holding a bracket. These are often used to address an overbite or underbite issue. They come in various colors and are usually replaced at each appointment by your orthodontist to ensure that the proper amount of pressure is applied.
A metal wire, an archwire, connects the brackets and helps guide the teeth into their proper position. Arch wires put pressure on the teeth to help correct the alignment of your bite and close the spaces between your teeth. They are changed out and tightened frequently during orthodontic treatment to move your teeth into the desired positions. Some archwires are metal, while others are clear or tooth-colored. Metal archwires are usually more sturdy and provide greater force than clear or tooth-colored ones.
The arch wires are connected to the brackets with ties and small rubber rings that fasten the wire to the brackets. The ligatures can be clear, white, or colored to match your outfits. They hold the archwire, preventing it from shifting out of place and providing constant light pressure on the teeth.
Nickel-titanium wire is the most common type of archwire used in orthodontics. This wire has added resiliency and can handle more stress than stainless steel wires. However, it has a bending limit beyond which it will become permanently distorted. Forcing the archwire past its bending limit can cause discomfort in patients.
Another type of orthodontic archwire is called a heat-activated wire, made from nitinol. It is also called a “smart” wire because it changes shape when heated. If you take a strand of nitinol wire and bend it into a curved shape, it will not return to its original form. However, if you heat the wire with a hairdryer, it will immediately return to its original curved shape. The nitinol wires in braces are heat-activated to create a consistent light force on the teeth.
If the archwire in your mouth is poking into a sensitive spot, you can use a pencil eraser to bend it away from the area. If the discomfort persists, you can use dental wax to protect the areas of your lips or gums from irritation.
The brackets in orthodontic braces are connected to the archwire with ligatures. These ligatures are rubber bands or elastics, which can be tightened to apply force to the teeth and help guide them into proper alignment. While they are not required for all patients, these small bands help to ensure that a patient’s treatment goes as smoothly as possible.
Elastic ligatures are available in various colors and can be adjusted to the desired level of tension. When a ligature loses its strength, it must be replaced by the orthodontist to prevent a loss of alignment, so patients must report any broken elastic ligatures as soon as they occur.
Stainless steel wire ligatures are sometimes used when more force is needed to correct a patient’s orthodontic problems. This ligature applies much more pressure between the tooth and the bracket and can foster rapid movement and correct more severe misalignment issues.
This study aimed to evaluate the stability and precision of ligatures used in lingual orthodontics and determine if Tip-Bar ™ brackets could improve the orthodontic outcome by tip control. The ligatures tested were 0.010-inch steel tie, ST10. The study showed that a 0.010-inch steel ligature is the most stable and secure ligature for adequate tip control of anterior teeth, while Tip-Bar ™ brackets increase the maximum moment by 33.8%.
The ligatures were observed under the scanning electron microscope to identify size variations, and the interface of the bracket-ligature-archwire was also analyzed. The results showed that latex and polyurethane O-ring ligatures exhibit considerable volumetric and structural changes after clinical use, and the grey polyurethane Slide low-friction ligature has a very limited variation in size.
While ligatures are essential for many orthodontic applications, they require regular maintenance and replacement. While this can be time-consuming, it is critical for the success of any fixed appliance. It is important that patients avoid foods that can cause ligatures to break and that they take special care when eating or drinking anything acidic. Patients should also keep a few backup elastics in their mouths in case of any sudden accidents or emergencies.
Retainers are a vital part of the orthodontic treatment process. They help preserve the alignment achieved through braces and prevent relapse after treatment. The most important thing to remember is that retainers only work if they are worn as instructed.
Removing your retainer for too long can allow your teeth to return to their original positions. If this happens, your smile may never look quite right again.
During the initial 3 to 6 months after your treatment, wearing your retainer all day (except for eating or brushing your teeth) is important. After this time, you can gradually start wearing your retainer less and less until you only need it at night.
There are two general types of retainers: removable retainers and fixed retainers. Removable retainers are typically plastic and can be taken out for eating and brushing. They can also be prone to accidental loss or destruction. For this reason, they keep your retainer in a protective case when not in use, which is important. It is also important to avoid putting your retainer in hot liquids or food, as this can cause it to warp. Retainers should be kept clean by rinsing with water and occasionally using an effervescent cleaning tablet (such as those used for dentures).
If you are considering getting a retainer, we recommend entering our office to get one fitted. Our team will be able to assess your needs and make the best recommendation for you.
The benefits of wearing a retainer far outweigh the minor discomfort you will experience when first wearing one. The initial adjustment period can be the most painful, but over-the-counter pain relievers and a soft foods diet should alleviate any discomfort you might experience. These simple tips will make your new smile healthy and beautiful for years. We would love to walk beside you on your journey to a straighter smile.