So you’ve been told you or your kid – or another loved one - needs braces. Maybe this comes as no surprise. After all, many need braces to straighten their teeth or correct a bite problem.
Yet, you still likely have questions. Such as what choices for braces exist now? How much will your braces cost? How long will you wear them? How they heck do braces work to straighten your teeth anyway?
Let’s start with the easiest question first.
The good news is that today, there are many different braces options and they can all straighten your teeth well.
The other questions – how much your braces will cost you and how long you will have to wear them – well, those answers are really dependent on the type of braces treatment you choose. However, one of the questions you like have, has pretty much has the same answer no matter what.
To understand how braces work to straighten teeth and realign the bite, you must understand the periodontal ligament.
The periodontal ligament is similar to other ligaments in your body. It’s dense fibers of connective tissue, comprised of collagen. Generally speaking, the ligament anchors to the gums and bone, holding the teeth in place.
Specifically, these fibers attach to the surface of the tooth on one side via a material we call cementum. The other side inserts into live bone. This design allows the periodontal ligament to perfectly “cradle” the teeth in place, permitting them to move just a little.
We use the word “perfectly” with intention. If the periodontal ligament were too tight, when you chewed your food, it would snap. If it were too loose, your teeth would fall out. But in general, it’s just right.
The function of the periodontal ligament is what allows braces to straighten your teeth too.
Normally, the tension of biting sends a “message” through your periodontal ligament and the cells respond by dissolving and creating new bone and cementum. Orthodontics uses this process, combined with external orthodontic appliances that manipulate it, with purpose and design to create the movement of the teeth that results in desired alignment.
The orthodontic appliances we can use to straighten your teeth include metal, ceramic, or plastic braces with wires and/or bands; or clear aligners (retainer life devices) like Invisalign. We adjust your braces – or change out your aligners – throughout the braces process to work with your bite to create different levels of pressure and/or force.
These multiple adjustments, over time, allow us to obtain our desired outcome—beautiful, strong, straight teeth with a perfect bite… for you!