Orthodontic Parts and How They Work

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If you look at braces before they are put in the mouth it can be difficult to work out quite what parts they are made of. There are bits of plastic, metal and rubber and you will have no idea what they are or what they are going to do to help you get straight teeth. Although you don’t need to know a great deal about what the parts are and what they can do, it may interest you to have a slight understanding of what you have in your mouth. It can be especially helpful when it is children having braces fitted as knowing what is there, can prevent them from being so afraid.

There are various types of braces, so some of the items below may not appear on yours. Invisalign are not the same as a lot of the others, as they do not have the same parts and are clear. If you are wearing Invisalign, you will not recognize a lot of the list, but if you don’t, most of them will be very familiar to you. Invisalign is becoming more popular and is likely to change the way that teeth are straightened, but for the time being, metal, ceramics, rubber and elastic will all be involved.

One of the main reasons you may have for needing to know the names of the parts is to recognize when there is a problem with the braces. It will help if you know the names as the orthodontist may want information from you and if you can tell them over the phone; it will save a visit to the office. It will also help if you know the function as if something goes wrong, you may be able to put the pieces back in place if you know what they are meant for.


  • Bands – this is the name given to the pieces of metal that fits around the back teeth. Each one will have been selected judging on the size and shape of the teeth so should be a perfect fit. It is through these bands that the wires will be placed. More often than not now, the bands will be made from ceramics, although for a long time they were made from stainless steel. With this new substance, it is possible to make them less visible and therefore people are likely to be less worried about wearing them and them being seen. Although they are hooked over the teeth; there is also dental cement used to make sure that they stay there.
  • Brackets – these are the square pieces of metal that can often be placed onto the teeth and are the thing that makes the braces most noticeable. There are times when they are set on the orthodontic band, but they are still as easy to see as when they are on the teeth. Again, these can be made out of either metal or ceramics, and each one is going to have a hole through them. It is through this hole that the wire will be sent, and some are also going to be fitted with hooks. When a rubber band is used, it will be attached to the hook.
  • Arch Wire – these will always be constructed of metal and will be individually made to clip into the brackets. It is this wire that will be responsible for the way that the teeth move. They will put pressure on them, and slowly they will begin to move. If they are not the right size or not put in the right position, the teeth will not end up where they are supposed to be. During the course of treatment, the wire will be exchanged each time the teeth have moved far enough. The new wire will start of the next stage of movement.
  • Rubber bands – otherwise known as elastics, these are the pieces that are supposed to come off the braces. They link through the bracket hooks and join the upper and lower teeth. They will permanently pull the teeth in the way that they are meant to go in and as long as these are set in the right way, the correct bite will be achieved once the braces are removed.
  • Ligatures – usually made from elastic but sometimes wire, they link the wire onto the brackets. Often, they will be clear and see through, though some people are not worried about them being seen and select them in a variety of bright colors. Once the braces are tightened and the next phase is starting, it is the ligatures that are changed.
  • Coil spring – not all braces will have these, and they will only be used if there are a couple of teeth that are set too close together. The spring is placed between the teeth brackets and across the arch wire. This way, pressure will be exerted on the teeth and they will begin to move apart. Once the space is there, the teeth can begin to straighten.
  • Power chain – the teeth need to have a continuous band between them and the ideal ones will be made up from rings made from wither elastic or wire. They work in the opposite way to the coil spring, as they are intended to open spaces; the power chain needs to stop spaces opening up. Each time there is an adjustment made at the dentist, they will be replaced.

Now that you understand a little more about how braces work, there should be no reason not to start the treatment to give you straight teeth. You have learned what the braces can do, and you should be able to sort out any issues you have. Before you have braces fitted, find out all you can about what you can do and eat, and most importantly of all, how you will look after them.

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