How Do Braces Work?

Isaac NewtonEverybody’s heard of Isaac Newton. And while you can associate his work with hard stuff such as calculus (he invented it), his main accomplishments had to do with providing proof for stuff most of us take for granted. For example, he came up with “rules of motion,” one of which boils down to “an object that is at rest will stay at rest until a force is applied to move it.” This applies to everything, from boulders to lazy cats.

And teeth.

Your teeth grow in accordance with the forces applied to them by the way the bones in your jaw grow. Sometimes, our jawbones grow in a way that makes our teeth come out crooked in a way that we can find troublesome or unattractive.

Well, the only way to counteract a force moving in one direction is with a force moving in another direction. And that’s exactly what braces do.

Braces use special “arch wires” that connect the brackets on your teeth. Arch wires are composed of a very special alloy that is formulated to very flexible when below body temperature and very stiff when brought up to the temperature of your mouth. This difference in tension provides a force against your teeth.

Tooth Movement

Here’s the really cool part:  As the force from the braces is applied to your teeth, they move – very, very gradually. As your teeth move in response to this force, bone “in the way” breaks down, effectively getting out the way of the tooth movement. Simultaneously, the jawbone grows behind the movement. The result is – with lots of assistance from your orthodontist – your teeth move into a new, desired position and are firmly fixed in your jaw as before.

There’s a bit of a difference in the rate at which the bone breakdown and the bone rebuild take place, so it’s really important that you complete your treatment in accordance with your orthodontist’s recommendations, so that your teeth move to their desired positions and stay there.

before & after