How Orthodontic Braces Work


Most people are aware of what orthodontic braces do, but very few are aware of how braces actually work, which makes for an amazing example of what the human body can do!

What Are Orthodontic Braces Made Of?

Braces are made up of four parts:

  • Brackets – these are attached to each tooth and are either metal or ceramic.
  • Bonding Material – this glue is used to attach a bracket to a tooth.
  • Arch Wire – a thin metal wire that runs from bracket to bracket that initiates teeth movement.
  • Ligature Elastic – This is a small elastic that used to hold the bracket onto the arch wire. “Self-ligating” brackets do not require elastic ligatures.

How Do Braces Work?

With conventional braces, brackets (made of ceramic or metal) are attached to your teeth with a bonding agent. A wire called an arch wire connects each bracket. An “o-ring”, or ligature elastic is used to hold the wire onto the bracket. Some brackets also have hooks (for the use of elastics if needed). Nowadays, most brackets do not require elastics or o-rings as they have a built in miniature clip that holds the wire.

Your orthodontist determines the ideal position of your teeth and this guides them when positioning the brackets, hooks and elastics on your teeth. The arch wire runs through the brackets and works in combination with the elastics or mini clips to exert the appropriate pressure to achieve teeth movement.

Bone remodeling does take time, and the process continues even after you’ve had your braces removed. This is why a retainer is an important part of the process after you’ve had your braces removed. It helps to keep your teeth in the ideal position while your body heals and reinforces the bone that has been remodeled in your jaw.

The specific course of action for your teeth will change depending on the severity of your orthodontic issues.

Your orthodontist may determine that you’d be a good candidate for a treatment such as Invisalign, which operates through a series of clear aligners (sort of like mouth guards), to adjust your teeth. The basic principles of how they work are the same, but the aligners are switched out periodically as they gradually move your teeth into their ideal position.

Hopefully this has answered a few of the questions you might have had, but please feel free to contact us if you have more questions, or to book a consultation with Dr. Mar or Dr. Lagravère.

How Orthondontic Braces Work Recommended Video

Here’s a great video on the science of what happens to your teeth and jaw when you have braces.