Braces are the most common tool that orthodontists use to improve smiles. Patients may be dissatisfied with their crooked or misaligned teeth, or may have difficulty eating or speaking. Oral health issues like uneven tooth wear, jaw pain, or cavities due to inadequate ability to clean gapped or crowded teeth can occur. Patients who are embarrassed about their smiles may also have low self-esteem. Dr. Laprade at Laprade Orthodontics in Pawtucket and Lincoln uses braces to correct smiles and improve patient confidence all the time. So how do braces accomplish this goal?
The components secured to teeth with a special bonding agent are called brackets. They are often made of metal, although some patients choose clear ceramic brackets instead. Brackets are typically bonded to the fronts of teeth.
One of the most important parts of braces is the archwire, which connects the brackets to one another using elastic o-rings or ligatures. Patients may choose various colors for their o-rings, a fun way of making their smile reflect their own personality during treatment. Archwires come in different sizes and materials so that they can be used to achieve the desired tooth movements. Dr. Laprade changes the wires as treatment progresses, starting small and working up to thicker sizes.
Metal bands are secured onto the very back teeth to anchor the archwire. Springs and other components like rubber bands, loops, hooks, or headgear, may be attached to the metal bands for patients who need those as part of their treatment.
Once Dr. Laprade places the brackets, wires, and bands, the journey to a new smile begins. It is a gradual process that happens as the archwire pressures the brackets and guides teeth to better positions. Rubber bands or springs may be used to direct specific movements, such as side to side. The archwire also pressures the tissues around tooth roots, called periodontal ligaments, which results in loosening teeth in their sockets. As the archwire guides them, teeth can then effectively move to desired locations. The wire holds the teeth in their new positions as tissues regenerate. It may take as long as a year for teeth to stabilize in their new locations, one reason braces must remain on the patient. Once teeth are completely stable, Dr. Laprade will remove the braces and the patient will have a brand new smile.