The part of your braces which actually moves the teeth. The arch wire is attached to the braces by small elastic donuts or ligature wires. Arch wires are changed periodically throughout the treatment at regular intervals. Each change brings you closer to the ideal tooth position.
Brackets are the ‘braces’ or small attachments that are bonded directly to the tooth surface. The brackets are the part of your braces to which we attach the arch wire. There are many different kinds of brackets, and during your consultation appointment we will discuss together the best type of brackets for your particular case.
Occasionally, a bracket may come loose and become an irritation to your mouth. You can remove the loose bracket and save it in an envelope to bring to the office. Call the office as soon as possible to make an appointment to re-glue the bracket.
Elastics (Rubber Bands)
Elastics are the primary mechanism that we use to move teeth so that they fit together correctly. They can be worn in a number of different configurations. Elastics are attached using hooks that are part of the bracket or the bands.
The elastics phase of treatment is the one that takes the longest in the average patient. The quality of our end result and completing treatment on time is dependent upon the patient following instructions for wearing elastics precisely.
If elastics are worn intermittently, they will continually ‘shock’ the teeth and cause more soreness. When elastics are worn one day then left off the next, treatment slows to a standstill or stops. Sore teeth between appointments usually indicates improper wear of headgear or elastics, or inadequate hygiene. Wear your elastics correctly, attaching them as you were told. Wear elastics all the time, unless otherwise directed. Take your elastics off while brushing. Change elastics as directed, usually once or twice a day.
O rings, also called A-lastics, are little rings used to attach the arch wire to the brackets. These rings come in standard gray or clear, but also come in a wide variety of colors to make braces more fun. A-lastics are changed at every appointment to maintain good attachment of the arch wire to the bracket, enabling our patients to enjoy many different color schemes throughout treatment.
Band & Loop
A band & Loop (or space maintainer) is used to hold space for a missing baby (primary) tooth until the permanent tooth can grow in.
Occlusion is the alignment and spacing of your upper and lower teeth when you bite down.
Types of Occlusion:
Anterior opening between the upper and lower teeth
Vertical overlapping of the upper teeth over the lower
Horizontal projection of the upper teeth beyond the lower
When the top teeth bite inside the lower teeth. It can occur with the front teeth or back teeth.
A malocclusion is a misalignment or incorrect relation between the teeth of the two dental arches when they approach each other as the jaws close.
Types of Malocclusion:
A malocclusion where the bite is OK (the top teeth line up with the bottom teeth) but the teeth are crooked, crowded, or turned.
A malocclusion where the upper teeth stick out past the lower teeth.
A malocclusion where the lower teeth stick out past the upper teeth, also called an ‘overbite’
Also known as a palatal widening appliance, this is a specially made device used to expand the upper arch or roof of the mouth. The maxilla, or upper dental arch, is joined in the center by an elastic joint, which allows it to be painlessly separated and spread. There are several reasons for widening the arch. First, by widening the upper arch, the upper teeth may line up better with the lower teeth, giving the patient a better bite. Second, where a high palate and a narrow arch restrict the breathing passages located above, widening the palate widens the air passages. Then the patient can breathe more easily through the nose. Third, widening the palate can make more room for crowded teeth to align better. Once the palate has been expanded fully, new bone tissue fills that space.
The palate expander uses four teeth to anchor themselves in place and by turning a small screw we are able to achieve expansion of the upper palate. You’ll notice that widening the palate also temporarily causes a space between the two front teeth. This will slowly go away in the next several days. Also the same pressure on the roof of the mouth may cause a feeling of pressure or a tingling sensation as the palate expands.
Since a palate expander is primarily an ‘orthopedic’ appliance (influence the growth of the bone) the younger the patient’s age when it is used, the more rapid and more stable the correction. When a patient reaches the stage we call ‘skeletal maturity’ (approximately age 15 for girls and for boys occurs around the age of 17) the two bones that comprise the upper jaw fuse and expansion through orthopedics is impossible without surgical assistance.
A plastic or rubber donut piece which is used to create space between your teeth in order to place the bands.
Headgear is usually one of the first appliances used as it works best before any other appliances are placed. It is a ‘functional’ appliance, meaning it is used to help modify the growth of the jaws. The length of your treatment time will depend upon how faithfully you follow our directions. Make sure your headgear is worn exactly as you have been instructed.
This appliance is used when there is a difference in growth between the upper and lower jaws. The headgear uses the back of the neck as an ‘anchor’ to correct this relationship. It connects in the mouth to two steel bands placed on upper front molars.
The importance of patient compliance in wearing headgear cannot be stressed enough! Remember to bring your headgear to each appointment.
Another functional appliance designed to encourage the lower jaw to grow forward and ‘catch up’ to upper jaw growth.
Most of our patients will receive an upper retainer when their braces are removed. It effectively maintains the alignment of teeth which orthodontists call ‘settling.’ When worn as instructed, our patient’s occlusion (bite) actually improves in the critical first few weeks after the braces are removed. Retainers are truly as important as braces in the long term result of orthodontic treatment. Please follow our use, care, and maintenance instructions carefully we will advise you of any specific instructions for your particular case.
Upper & Lower Utility
Before braces can be place don all of the teeth, we often need to create space and correct patient’s overbite. This is accomplished most effectively by placing ‘upper and lower utility’ arches, the term we used for braces on the upper and lower front teeth and the six year molars. All of these teeth are, of course, connected by orthodontic wires. Once we’ve accomplished all the movements desired with utility arches, the next step would be braces on all the other teeth.