Metal braces are the most common type of braces children and adults use to correct bad bite and tooth misalignment. If you are getting braces or already have braces, it’s a good idea to know what the parts are and how they are put together. This knowledge will help you take care of your teeth and braces more effectively as well as help us understand what is wrong should something get damaged or broken.
Braces are made up of six main parts: bands, brackets, arch wires, elastics, hooks, and coil springs.
Bands are metal rings that we place around your molars, making them as tight as possible and gluing them to the teeth with a special dental cement. Arch wires slide through a metal attachment on the outside of the bands. While bands were a common component of orthodontic treatment previously, they are not used very much anymore.
Brackets are made of stainless steel (the strongest type) or ceramic (less visible). Each bracket is adhered to the front of a tooth, and brackets are essentially the handles for the arch wire, which is the part of your braces that pulls your teeth into alignment.
The arch wire is the workhorse of your braces. It is threaded through each of the brackets (or bands). The curve we put into the arch wire is what helps your teeth move slowly into alignment. It acts like a track for your teeth to follow.
Elastics (Rubber Bands)
Small rubber bands are used to create more force to move your teeth into alignment. They are attached strategically to both an upper and lower bracket or band and help keep your tooth alignment right on schedule. We’ll teach you how to change the elastics regularly because they need to be replaced when their pulling power weakens (usually after about 8 hours). If you keep up with elastic replacement, you’ll be able to get your braces off a lot sooner than if you neglect this important step.
Each bracket contains a tiny hook, which is what you will use to attach elastics to your teeth.
Coil springs help create spaces between teeth (as with crowding) or to maintain a space (as when a baby tooth falls out and your orthodontist wants to keep that space open for the new tooth to grow in).
As you take care of your teeth and braces, your teeth will move into a better alignment. You’ll enjoy a better bite and straighter teeth that you can show off in a dazzling smile.