So, How Do Braces Actually Work?

Braces are often a common stage in many people’s lives, whether it’s a part of your teenage years, adult life, or otherwise. As with many things that are an accepted part of life, you might accept the technology without having a concrete understanding of how, exactly, it functions.  

Have you ever wondered just how braces actually work? We’re here to give you an orthodontist’s explanation.

diagram of a toothHow Braces Work

Your teeth are housed in a special kind of bone called alveolar bone. The roots of your teeth sit in a fossa (depression or hollow) of alveolar bone called the socket. They’re connected to the socket by periodontal ligaments.

Whenever pressure is applied to your teeth, the periodontal ligaments compress and the bone on the side receiving the pressure responds by resorption. On the side opposite of where pressure is being applied, bone is deposited. 

So, as braces apply the ideal amount of pressure to your teeth, over time they will slowly move through the alveolar bone through this process of resorption and deposition of bone. Orthodontists look at where we want the teeth to move, and from there we use braces and physics to move them in the proper direction. 

How Long Will I Have To Wear Braces?

How long it takes for braces to straighten your teeth depends on your specific situation. Typically, braces need to be worn for between 12-18 months for most people.

Do Braces Hurt?

You will experience soreness with braces, but you won’t experience constant discomfort. The time when your teeth and gums will feel most sore is when you first get braces and after adjustments because that is when the pressure on the alveolar bones is the greatest. You can compare braces pain to a bruise—if you push on the bruise, it becomes more sore, but it does eventually go away.

The Periodontal ligament gets compressed and that is what causes the pain associated with braces. Chewing soft sugarless gum can momentarily release the pressure on the ligament and thereby help relieve the orthodontic pain. 

How Do I Know If I Need Braces? 

Braces can improve the cosmetic appearance of a smile, but their use goes far beyond aesthetics. Braces also help correct problems related to your bite, and a healthy bite can prolong the life of your teeth.  

Your teeth have a significant impact on your health, and it’s important to care for them properly – which includes taking preventative measures like seeing an orthodontist early on. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends getting a screening at age 7. With early treatment, orthodontists are able to catch and correct early issues before more severe problems develop. 

However, braces are for both kids and adults—there is no age limit to getting braces. In fact, 25% of orthodontic patients are adults! If you think you or your child may benefit from orthodontic treatment, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We offer free consultations and are more than happy to answer any questions you may have. We also have lots of great resources on our site – whether you’re curious about what life with braces is like, what to expect during a visit, and more.

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