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Smile Elements Orthodontics Blog

How Braces Straighten Teeth: Explained

Posted by Dr. Hisham Badawi | September 11 2019

How Braces Straighten Teeth: Explained 

So many of our patients are familiar with the look of braces and what braces do, but they aren’t entirely sure of how they get from point A to point B. Point A being a misaligned smile and bite, and Point B being the smile of their dreams.

If you’re wondering about the mechanics of braces, we totally hear you - it can be confusing! We created a guide below to help answer the big questions, and hopefully give you a better understanding of how the whole process works from start to finish.


Once your treatment plan has been created and all the other details have been sorted out, it’s time for your braces to be attached. Your appointment will begin with your orthodontist polishing and cleaning your teeth - this is done for a few reasons.

The first reason is to prepare your teeth and ensure they’re clean before commencing treatment. Clean teeth will help the adhesive to stick better, and help the braces stick to the adhesive so they can be securely bonded to all of your teeth.

The next step is to have the brackets physically attached to your teeth. Where the brackets go depends on your treatment plan, but most of the time they will be attached to each upper and lower tooth. The archwire is what comes last, and is attached to all of the metal brackets in order to put pressure on your teeth. The archwire is what will help to guide your teeth into their correct and final positions.

How Do They Work?



Like we mentioned above, braces achieve your smile goals through the addition of consistent pressure being applied to misaligned teeth. This is why your mouth may feel sore during the first few days to a week of having your braces bonded; your mouth needs to adjust to the new pressure, new hardware, and new attempted movement happening inside your mouth.

In order to designate movement to certain areas of the mouth and certain teeth, rubber bands are sometimes used to guide the movement in that direction. These rubber bands are to be worn all the time, aside from when you’re brushing your teeth and completing other tasks within your oral hygiene routine. With the use of these rubber bands, along with a combination of the metal brackets and other applicable hardware, braces are exerting a constant pressure that allows your treatment to move forward on a constant and day to day basis.


How Does This Happen?

While it can be easily understood that braces put pressure on your teeth to guide them, for some it’s still a mystery as to how your teeth physically move inside your skull. Beneath your gums is a membrane, which holds the root portion of your tooth that is surrounded by bone. As the braces and archwire are putting pressure on your teeth, this membrane is then manipulated by this pressure, stretching from one side to the other so the tooth can freely move.

The bone will then change, adapt to its’ new surroundings, and will then grow to support its’ new position in the mouth. It’s important to note that due to all of this carefully planned and executed movement, orthodontic treatment is a medical procedure, and should only be done by a professional. Always talk to an orthodontist if you have concerns about a misaligned bite.


What About When They Come Off?

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Now that we know that braces put constant pressure on your teeth in order to guide them into place and mold your new smile, there’s just one more thing to address - what happens when they’re no longer there to do so?

Once your treatment is over and your braces are removed, your orthodontist will construct a custom made retainer for you. This retainer will typically have to be worn every night, and is simply insurance that your teeth won’t move, or shift back into their old positions. This custom retainer will help you keep your new smile for life!


Topics: Orthodontics, Braces

Written by Dr. Hisham Badawi

An accomplished clinician, researcher, speaker and subject matter expert, with broad, in-depth and hands-on experience in many verticals within the healthcare space including technology applications in clinical practice, clinical research, biomechanics, bioinformatics, intellectual property, software development, clinical data sciences, and healthcare data privacy regulations.

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