The Mechanics and Biology of Aligning Teeth
When braces apply pressure to our teeth, they don’t simply move. There’s an intense cellular process happening in our jaws in response to that pressure. In front of the tooth, specialized cells called osteoclasts break down bone cells that are in the way, while osteoblasts build new bone cells behind the tooth to keep it fitting snugly in its socket. The bone is actually reshaping itself!
This is a major reason why it’s so important to go to an orthodontist for dental crowding, crookedness, or bad bites. It takes all those years of education and training we receive to be able to understand the best ways to encourage teeth to shift to their proper position. Someone with less experience might attempt an approach that doesn’t produce the best results or puts the teeth at risk.
Traditional Metal Braces
Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are more comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth using metal brackets and archwires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding colored elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and colorful smile.
Common Appliances Used With Wire Braces
Sometimes, we need one or two other appliances in addition to the braces themselves in order to have the correct bite and palate shape as well as straight teeth, and sometimes we need these appliances to get our teeth ready for braces in the first place.
In order to put braces on, you might need spacers between your back teeth for a while. Spacers are small elastic rings that move your molars apart just enough to fit bands onto them to anchor your braces. This process can take from 3-10 days. Not all patients with wire braces will need spacers first.
Palatal expanders correct narrow palates by bracing against the teeth and the roof of the mouth and exerting gradual pressure outwards to encourage the palate to widen to the proper shape. These are important appliances for correcting crossbites and crowding. Palatal expanders often go in before braces to make room for the teeth to go where they’re supposed to go.
A holding arch may be used when a child loses baby teeth too early. It holds the permanent front teeth and molars in place so they don’t shift and crowd the teeth that haven’t had a chance to grow in yet. A holding arch for the upper jaw is sometimes called the “Nance button,” and lower jaw holding arches are called “lower lingual holding arches.”
Bite plates are acrylic, retainer-like appliances that correct “deep” bites. A deep bite occurs when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth so much that the lower incisors touch the gum tissue behind the upper incisors, leading to many complications. A bite plate creates a barrier between the lower incisors and the upper gum tissue and helps shift the teeth to decrease the overlap.
Clear (Ceramic) Braces
Ceramic braces are made of clear materials and are therefore less visible on your teeth than metal braces. For this reason, ceramic braces are used mainly on older teenagers and adult patients who have cosmetic concerns. While they are visually less prominent, they do require more attention to oral hygiene as ceramic braces are larger and are more brittle than their metal counterparts. For these reasons, ceramic braces tend to be used more on upper front teeth than on lower teeth.
Clear aligners are a series of invisible, removable, and comfortable acrylic trays that straighten your teeth like braces. Not only are the aligners invisible, they are removable, so you can eat and drink what you want while in treatment, plus brushing and flossing are less of a hassle. The aligners are comfortable and have no metal to cause mouth abrasions during treatment.
No Matter What Your Treatment Is, Retention Matters
The bone-reshaping process takes time, and our teeth still remember their old position after the braces come off. This is why it’s so important to wear retainers. They help the teeth and jaws get used to the new position, and they also prevent separate shifting that happens to most people’s teeth as they get older.
Get the Best Braces for You With Brazos Valley Orthodontics!
If you need orthodontic treatment, schedule an initial consultation with us by calling our College Station office at (979) 693-3751 or by sending us an email. Make sure to check the map for instructions before you head our way. Here at Brazos Valley Orthodontics, we’re excited to help you achieve the smile of your dreams!