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How Do Braces Work? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

How Do Braces Work? Here’s Everything You Need To Know


How Do Braces Work? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

by West Coast Dental

Dental braces are orthodontic devices that are used to align and straighten teeth so they are positioned properly. Although traditional wire and bracket braces are commonly used, today’s orthodontic patients have more options than ever before. However, many people still wonder how braces work to straighten teeth?

How Do Braces Work?

Braces work by putting pressure on your teeth to move them into the desired position. The bone under the teeth changes shape during the process, as well.

Traditional metal braces are made up of the following primary components that work together to apply the needed pressure.


These are the foundation for moving the placement of your teeth. Brackets are bonded to the individual tooth with a special adhesive to keep them firmly in place. The way they are placed will be based on the specifications of your dentist according to your treatment plan designed for you. Each tooth will have its own bracket to maximize the archwire’s ability to move that tooth to its desired position.


The archwire is the bent wire that runs through the slots in the brackets across your top and bottom teeth. Archwires cause the needed pressure to move teeth into the desired position because they have a tendency to move back to their original, unbent shape. They

You can expect your dentist to use different sizes of archwire over the course of your treatment. The size and shape of the archwire will depend on how much pressure and movement is needed to move your teeth. Most treatment plans start out with round, thinner archwires. Your dentist will probably switch to thicker and more rectangular archwires as treatment progresses.


Not everyone will need these tiny rubber bands, known as elastics. It depends on whether your case requires the added tension and pressure. If it does, elastics will be fitted onto some of the brackets.

In some cases, patients will need additional devices — like springs and headgear — to meet the goals of their orthodontics treatment plan.

As your teeth start to move from the pressure of the archwires on the brackets, this will impact two parts of your mouth the most — the periodontal membrane (or periodontal ligament) which is found around the root of the tooth and the alveolar bone to which the ligament is attached. The movement of your teeth will depend on how these two parts react to the pressure of the braces. Your dentist will also explain the process of how braces work as your treatment plan gets started.

How Long People Typically Need to Wear Braces

It might seem counterintuitive, but teeth respond better to a gradual, lighter force so the process is not a quick one. Typically, treatment for misalignments can take anywhere from one to three years, but the time varies from person to person. It depends on:

  • The distance your teeth must travel to be properly aligned
  • How severe your correction is
  • The amount of available space inside your mouth
  • The current health of your teeth and gums
  • The condition of your jawbone
  • Whether you are diligent about following your dentist’s instructions

Keep in mind that when you get braces, the tooth readjustment will begin within a day or two. This will probably lead to some soreness and sensitivity which is completely normal. It means that your braces are doing what they are supposed to do.

After you finish your treatment, the process is not over. You will have to wear an oral appliance called a retainer, or your teeth will slide back into their original position. Wearing a retainer diligently will encourage the roots of your teeth to stay in place for good.

Who Should Get Braces

There are many reasons to get braces. They will correct just about any alignment issue in your mouth including crowded teeth or a misaligned bite. Spacing issues are often why people’s teeth are crooked and is one of the most common reasons people need braces. They can also fix overbites, underbites and crossbites. 

Caring for Teeth With Braces

All of the hardware of traditional braces can attract food and plaque which can stain teeth and lead to tooth decay and gum issues. After your dentist explains how braces work, he or she will tell you how to keep your teeth and gums healthy during the process. It’s a good idea to brush every time you eat and be sure to remove food that is stuck in your braces. Your dentist might also recommend that you rinse with a fluoride mouthwash to help reach those areas where a toothbrush cannot. A water flosser is a great way to rinse out food that gets stuck in your braces.

To learn more about how West Coast Dental’s expert team can help you get the beautiful smile you want, contact us to set up your initial consultation at one of our convenient locations or book your appointment online. We look forward to seeing your smile!


Healthline – How Do Braces Work to Straighten Teeth?

WebMD – Braces: How Long Will I have to Wear Braces?

American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) – Beginning Braces Treatment

Oral B – How to Take Care of Teeth With Braces

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