How Dental Braces Work to Straighten Teeth

The first question that probably comes to mind when looking into orthodontic treatment is, “How do braces work?” While the main goal of braces is to straighten teeth and correct misaligned bites, many people don’t know how this process actually happens. The short answer is that pressure is put on your teeth and jaw to gradually move them into their correct positions. But there is more that goes into how dental braces work than simply pressure.

From your initial consultation and braces installation, to your various adjustments and removal, there are numerous factors that contribute to a successful braces treatment. Although braces are more popular in kids and teenagers, they are becoming more popular with adults and are just as effective in older patients as well. Regardless of your age, though, following your orthodontist’s recommendations will ensure your braces work as effectively as possible.


The stages of braces

There are two general ways to think of braces: having them on during treatment, and having them off once your treatment ends. While this isn’t incorrect, there is more that happens before and after your treatment that can affect how your braces work and how effective they are at moving your teeth.


When first looking into braces, you’ll set up a consultation with a prospective orthodontist. We recommend choosing a board-certified orthodontist for your treatment, but most importantly you should make sure you’re confident in whoever you select. During your consultation, your orthodontist will assess your unique case, your end goals, and various treatment options to create a customized plan. Be sure to come with any questions you might have about braces, like the cost of treatment or post-braces plans, so they can be addressed during this initial consultation as well.


Should you choose to move forward with braces, you’ll schedule an appointment to install the braces hardware and start treatment. This is when your orthodontist will adhere the metal brackets to your teeth and install the wire with rubber bands. This part of getting braces doesn’t hurt and typically takes between one to two hours. Most patients are sore for about a week after this initial installation, and are sore for a couple days after future adjustments.

Many patients’ favorite part about the treatment process is that they get to choose what color of rubber bands, or ligature ties, they’ll have during each of their adjustment appointments. Braces colors can vary from a solid color to having a multitude of different colors used in one adjustment. The choice is up to you with how creative you’ll be with the options you have for your braces rubber bands!


Post Braces

Once your treatment ends, your orthodontist will remove the braces from your teeth. Although this might sound scary, the process is virtually painless. At most, you’ll feel slight pressure on your teeth from removing the brackets. If you think your teeth feel “slimy” afterwards, don’t worry. This is a common feeling since you might not be used to how your teeth feel without the braces hardware on them.

Your orthodontist will then take impressions of your teeth to create permanent retainers. They’ll advise you how often to wear your retainers while taking into consideration the severity of your initial issues. In most cases, retainers must be worn more frequently right after you have your braces removed to ensure your teeth don’t relapse, or move out of their intended straightened positions. It’s important to remember that this stage of braces is solely dependent on you and your diligence in wearing your retainer. Post-treatment takes discipline to ensure your hard work doesn’t go to waste!

How do braces work to move teeth?

Traditional dental braces are comprised of brackets and wires that are cemented to the outside of teeth and are connected together by ligature ties, or more commonly referred to as rubber bands. Dental braces straighten teeth by applying constant pressure on the teeth to move them towards the current wire’s curve. Overtime, your jaw will gradually adapt to this pressure, moving your teeth with it. In some cases, your orthodontist might prescribe an additional type of rubber band that works to correct more severe bite issues.


As you progress through your treatment, your orthodontist will switch out the wire to continuously work on straightening your teeth and bringing them into their correct alignment. This process is very gradual and takes months as the bone and tooth roots have to adjust to the movement. Although there are variations in appliances and wires, the general premise in how they work through constant pressure is the same.

How fast do teeth move with braces?

Individual braces treatment length varies from patient to patient. The severity of the patient’s case along with their individual goals both dictate whether they will have a longer or shorter treatment. In general, though, patients should expect their braces treatment to last anywhere between 18-36 months. While this might seem like a long period of time to have braces, most patients feel as though the treatment starts to speed by once they’ve become acclimated to their braces. You’ll also have a beautiful new smile at the end to look forward to!

Depending on your goals and unique case, you could be a candidate for OoLi Orthodontic’s faster treatment process. Under this treatment plan, we correct as much as we can within a 12-month span. This treatment is typically best suited for patients who are more focused on the aesthetics of straight teeth and have minimal bite issues since those typically take longer than a year (24-36 months on average) to properly address.

How long will my teeth hurt with braces?

One of the downsides of how braces work is the discomfort that comes along with moving teeth. Since braces apply pressure to the teeth to move them into their correct new positions, many patients experience discomfort, soreness, and some throbbing – most notably right after they begin treatment and whenever their braces are adjusted. The discomfort from regular adjustments typically goes away within a day or two and can be alleviated by over the counter pain relievers, like Tylenol or ibuprofen, which your orthodontist will likely recommend if the discomfort is bothersome. If your pain persists or gets worse, you should consult with your orthodontist to ensure there are no underlying issues causing your pain.


How dental braces work

While there are many factors that contribute to how braces work and their effectiveness, most patients find the slight downsides of the noticeable hardware and discomfort after adjustments to be worth it when they see their brand new smile. If you’re in the Phoenix area and interested in starting a braces treatment plan or would like to learn more about how they work, you can set up a free consultation with Dr. Park at OoLi Orthodontics online!

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