Written By: Radhika Bajaj
Dental braces, a symbolism of adolescence for many, are becoming ever so popular, and not just among kids, but adults too. I have been through the experience of receiving and taking off braces myself. Yet, I am sure that many people like me agree to get braces without knowing how they actually work!
What are Braces?
Braces are dental instruments used to straighten teeth. In other words, they can be used to correct crowded, crooked, or misaligned teeth. To start off, your dentist will likely take photos of your face and mouth, and X-rays of your teeth. This allows them to create a personalized treatment plan and custom-made dental braces.
As you may know, braces line the outside of your teeth and are removable. Moreover, the basic components of braces include brackets, archwire, and elastic bands. On a case-to-case basis, your dentist may choose to use other tools to help shape your teeth. Brackets are small squares that attach to your teeth with the help of adhesive. The archwire is a wire which attaches to the brackets with the help of rubber bands. Looking back, I remember the fun of being able to pick the perfect colour of rubber bands!
Afterward, your dentist will probably call you in for periodic check-ups to adjust these components according to your needs.
How do they Work?
Well, you know what braces are, but now comes the important question. Something that even I didn’t know the answer to when getting braces myself. How are these orthodontic instruments able to reorient your teeth? It all happens because of the pressure created by the braces. Above all, the archwire is most responsible for inflicting this pressure.
Many people may have the misconception that our teeth are connected to our jawbone which is underneath our teeth. However, that wouldn’t allow our teeth to move. Don’t worry, I also made the same mistake! On the other hand, we have a membrane, the periodontal ligament, which surrounds the root of our teeth. The membrane connects our teeth to the part of our jawbone called the alveolar bone. Furthermore, our teeth move according to how the membrane reacts to the pressure created.
Braces work by compressing your teeth on one side of the periodontal membrane. Meanwhile, the other side of the periodontal ligament stretches away from your teeth. Subsequently, the body starts an inflammation process that may cause soreness. Bone-eating cells, osteoclasts, show up on the site where the membrane is being compressed. Consequently, they eat away some of your jawbone to create space for the teeth to shift in a process called resorption. On the other hand, bone-growing cells, osteoblasts, start to create new bone where the membrane is stretching away from the teeth. This activity is called deposition. Isn’t it amazing? In a slow and steady process, this corrects the alignment of your teeth.
Things to Know Before Getting Braces
Braces usually require periodic check-ups and adjustments. The common question that comes into people’s minds is: how long will it take? You may have to wear braces for 1-3 years. My whole treatment took 2 years. However, it all depends on what you are correcting and whether you follow instructions carefully. For example, dentists usually recommend avoiding sticky, hard, or sugary foods which interfere with braces. After removal, most people have to wear retainers so that their teeth don’t shift back. Retainers are custom-made devices that keep your teeth in place. Additionally, some people may feel soreness or have difficulty chewing when getting braces. Yet, the pain only lasts for a couple of days.
Are you still thinking to get braces? The good thing is that there isn’t any age limit to receive braces as long as your teeth are healthy. Regardless of some difficulties, you’ll have a perfect smile and healthy teeth in no time!
I hope this has prepared you if you’re thinking about getting braces. On the other hand, if you’ve already got braces, now you know what’s actually going behind the scenes. Some people may think that getting braces is a slow and dreadful process. Yet, time flies by so fast! I didn’t even realize how quickly I was ready to take off my braces.