The field of orthodontics is older than you may think. Ancient philosophers, such as Aristotle and Hippocrates, tried to figure out ways to straighten teeth, and archeologists have discovered crude metal bands wrapped around the teeth of ancient mummies. Technology and technique have continued to advance over the intervening centuries, and today, orthodontic treatment by our team is much more comfortable than it was even a quarter of a century ago.
There are many kinds of orthodontic appliances and aligners available, but when it comes to braces in the traditional sense, there are two basic types.
- The lingual type is placed on the back sides your teeth, next to your tongue, which is where it gets its name.
- The more common type, which we use, is applied to the front of your teeth, where it can be seen. It comes in two basic varieties: metal and ceramic. The ceramic variety may be clear and therefore less noticeable.
Regardless of what type of you use, they all work essentially the same way, by putting pressure on your teeth to shift them slowly into a different position.
What we refer to as braces are actually made up of several individual components that all have a part to play in straightening your teeth.
- Arch wire: The arch wire is what puts the pressure on your teeth, causing them to move and guiding them into a better position. They can be made from a titanium alloy or stainless steel.
- Buccal tube: These components install at the back of your mouth, anchoring the arch wires and all the other components together. They consist of metal tubes that fit over your molars.
- Brackets: Brackets are the component people normally think of when they think of braces. They serve to connect the archwire to the teeth. To make the connection, an orthodontist uses a special adhesive to glue the brackets directly onto the teeth. These are the components that can be made of either ceramic or metal.
Sometimes other components are also used to place pressure on your teeth and jaws. Spacers and springs can create extra space at the back of your mouth or between your teeth and make it easier to install other components. Bands apply extra pressure when placed around the brackets. They are also called ligatures or O-rings.
Orthodontic treatment works because your teeth are not firmly fixed directly into your jawbone. Rather, your teeth are rooted to your jaw by a special membrane underneath your gums that controls the position of your teeth. When braces put pressure on your teeth, the membrane responds. Continuous, prolonged pressure moves your teeth slowly into a new position, and the shape of your jaw changes gradually to accommodate.
Although orthodontic treatment works by placing pressure on your teeth, it is typically not painful. You may experience cheek or tongue irritation and some dull discomfort following application or adjustment. Our team at Jones & DeShon Orthodontics can explain more about what you can expect from your braces. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation.