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Introduction to dental braces

Author: Jessica Zhang

Editors: Yanxi Chen and Jasleen Matharu

Artists: Acey Li

“Mom, I don't want to wear braces, they’re so ugly!” Perhaps you once shouted at your parents for refusing to wear braces, but dental braces, despite being uncomfortable, they are beneficial aesthetically and functionally. They not only straighten misaligned teeth but also address chewing issues. For people who suffer from those problems, this article will provide information towards a better understanding of braces, including examining each component of the braces as well as different kinds of dental braces.

Dental braces work by applying pressure to realign the teeth. To achieve that, each of the main components of braces has a unique function. Take the most popular braces as an example; it uses small pieces of metal, called brackets, in the center of the teeth. Each bracket is connected through a metal archwire, which applies constant pressure to push the teeth to their ideal position. Around each bracket are elastic ligatures, these are rubber bands that make sure the archwire is in the correct position. They can be customized into different colors and sizes, but they must be replaced every time one has an orthodontic adjustment. Similar to elastic ligatures, wire ligatures also hold the archwire in place. However, when elastic ligatures are not able to keep the archwire in the bracket, wire ligatures can replace elastic ligatures as they can exert more force. Usually, when the treatment draws towards an end, chain elastics (also called power chains) will replace the elastic ligatures, creating a stronger pressure. Chain elastics will pull the teeth together tightly.

What’s more, coils or coil springs are usually used when two teeth overlap with each other. They are between two brackets and can separate the teeth through elastic force. Lastly, rubber bands can ensure the teeth line up correctly by connecting the top and bottom brackets together. They can be placed and removed by the patient every day.

There are many braces for a person to choose from, but each type has its advantages and disadvantages. The most common one, metal braces, are one of the most popular choices for children mainly because they are affordable. They consist of titanium and alloy, which will not activate metal detectors. However, they are the most visible on the teeth. Ceramic braces are less visible than metal braces because the brackets can blend in with natural teeth. However, they are more expensive and may be stained by particular foods. People know less about lingual braces; the most prominent difference from traditional braces is that the brackets and wires of lingual braces are inside the teeth. But they are more challenging to clean, and the orthodontists may have difficulty adjusting the braces.

Lastly, clear aligners; patients wear a clear tray over their teeth and need to change for new ones throughout the treatment. It is far less visible or invasive; patients can even remove them to clean and eat. In addition, they can only be considered when misalignment is not so severe.

Once you have some teeth issues, it’s crucial to consult orthodontists as early as possible and treat those issues with appropriate strategy. It may hurt initially, but a row of clean, white, neat teeth is worth the hassle.

 

Citations:

“Braces: Types, Procedure, What to Expect.” Verywell Health, Verywell Health, Valeii, Kathi,

16 Mar. 2022, https://www.verywellhealth.com/braces-5219471.

“4 Types of Braces (Procedures, Costs & Faqs).” NewMouth, NewMouth, Hill, Alyssa, 21 July

2022, https://www.newmouth.com/orthodontics/treatment/braces/.

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