All About Metal Braces
Traditional braces have been around for a long time, and they’re probably the most recognizable symbol of orthodontics. These orthodontic workhouses have a long history of successful treatment, and are great at correcting many oral issues.
What Are Braces Made of?
The brackets are durable, long lasting, and are typically 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 your doctor will use to attach the brackets to your teeth. Although some orthodontists may attach the brackets to a metal band which is then crimped around the tooth to hold it in place, it’s much more common to attach the bracket directly to the tooth with glue (technically, a form of composite bonding material).
If you need more serious treatment, metal bands may be used together with glue to make your braces more stable.
This thin piece of metal runs from one bracket to another. Your doctor will change the shape and curvature of the wire in order to move your teeth in the desired direction. Your doctor may bend the wire to help push or pull any teeth that are especially stubborn. In some cases, the wire will attach all of your bottom or upper teeth together, but we might occasionally cut the wire strategically 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.
Other terms you may hear Dr. Emily Willett mention in connection with your metal braces are:
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.
How Do Braces Work?
Before applying the brackets, Dr. Emily Willett and our team will collect photos and X-rays of your mouth. Sometimes we will 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 option scan, the information will be used to help create your customized treatment plan. This will including how each tooth needs to be moved in order to get it in the best possible position.
Dr. Emily Willett 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, Dr. Emily Willett 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 aligning 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.
Want to know more about the science behind remodeling? When pressure is put on the tooth, cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts form around the tooth’s root. The pressure of the wire and the osteoblasts and osteoclasts together create a negative pressure on one side of your tooth.
At this site, bone is removed. On the other side of the tooth, bone is reformed. The tooth will then slowly move into the correct position as pressure is put on the tooth and the bone of the tooth and the jaw is remodeled.
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.
Today’s Metal Braces
Metal braces have had a reputation for being awkward and obvious, but because of modern orthodontics, you will benefit from versions that are smaller, less conspicuous, and more comfortable than ever before.
Sleeker brackets and lighter wires improve the appearance and feel of these braces. This means you will have less irritation in your mouth.
Traditional metal braces also come with a fun new twist without any extra cost - you can customize them with pops of color. The elastics that fit around your brackets come in a wide variety of colors that let you showcase your personality whenever you want.
Pick your favorite color combination, the colors of your favorite sports team, even your school colors! We also offer silver, gray, white, black, and tooth-colored elastics for patients seeking a more subtle look.
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!
Bonus: because metal braces get right down to work, you’ll be able to see some signs of progress in a relatively short period of time. 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.
This is what everyone wants to know, but it’s one we don’t have a concrete answer for. Every mouth is different, and every patient responds to treatment in their own way. Treatment time with metal braces will be different every time.
The average time spent in metal braces is around 18 to 22 months, but could be shorter or longer, depending on the individual. We have patients in braces for as little as six months. But for complex issues, it can take over three years to complete the process.
With metal braces, you can see signs of improvement in just a short period of time, and that gives you confidence during the treatment process.