How do braces really work?

So you’ve decided to have your teeth corrected, and you’re looking forward to getting the right brace or aligner for you – but what actually happens once your brace is fitted, and how does it work? 

The general principle is that braces apply gentle pressure to your teeth to gradually move them into the correct position. Some people develop an overbite during childhood – often as a result of thumb sucking – or it could be because of the size of their teeth or jaw. An underbite, on the other hand, often runs in families. Both of these conditions can easily be corrected by a brace or retainer. 

Here’s some terms you’ll soon become familiar with: 

Arch wire The long, thin wire that runs across the front of your teeth and connects your brackets. 

Self-ligating brackets Special sliding clips that hold the arch wire in place. Traditional braces use elastic bands, but we prefer these clips as it makes changing the wire quicker and easier. We also offer a clear, tooth-coloured version if you’re worried about your brace being noticed. 

Aligners These are nearly invisible, clear plastic ‘shields’ that put gentle pressure on your teeth if you’ve opted for Invisalign instead of a brace. They’re changed every few weeks as your teeth begin to adapt. 

How do braces work? 

Your teeth are held inside your jawbone by a group of tiny connective tissue fibres called the periodontal ligament. When the wires on your brace (or your aligner) exert pressure on your teeth, the ligament compresses and the teeth loosen. This causes the jawbone (alveolar bone) to create new bone on one side of each tooth and remove it on the other, to hold the teeth securely in place, while tooth movement is taking place. 

Every few weeks, our team will adjust the arch wires on your brace to maintain the right amount of pressure, so your teeth move correctly and the bone remodels and adapts. The same goes for Invisalign – each new retainer will put a different amount of pressure on your teeth to help guide them into the best position. 

The whole process can take up to 18 months depending on how much work your teeth need, but once started, you’re likely to notice a difference within weeks. 

All in all, a brace or Invisalign retainer is a really clever way to correct your teeth and enhance your natural smile. Yup, it takes a bit of time and patience, but we believe that some things really are worth waiting for!

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