October 17th, 2017
SOMETIMES, HAVING BRACES can make things feel a bit crowded in your mouth, but every piece of orthodontic hardware serves an important purpose in getting you the straight, healthy smile you deserve! Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.
The Main Attraction: Braces
Before adding any additional appliances, braces themselves have a few different components. There are the brackets cemented to your teeth, the archwire that goes across all the brackets to move your teeth into alignment, and the ligatures or elastics that hold the wires in place (those are the ones you get to color-customize). Some brackets will have hooks that rubber bands can attach to. Metal bands around the molars and bucchal tubes attached to the molar brackets act as anchors for the archwires.
After braces come retainers, which can be either metal or plastic, and may even be permanently attached to the teeth. Retainers keep your teeth in place so that your periodontal ligaments don’t pull them back to their original positions.
Common Accessories Customize Your Treatment
Sometimes, we need one or two other appliances in addition to the braces themselves in order to have the correct bite and palate shape as well as straight teeth, and sometimes we need these appliances to get our teeth ready for braces in the first place.
In order to put braces on, you might need spacers between your back teeth for a while. Spacers are small elastic rings that move your molars apart just enough to fit bands onto them to anchor your braces. This process can take from 3-10 days.
Palatal Expanders correct narrow palates by bracing against the teeth and the roof of the mouth and exerting gradual pressure outwards to encourage the palate to widen to the proper shape. These are important appliances for correcting crossbites and crowding. Palatal expanders often go in before braces to make room for the teeth to go where they’re supposed to go.
A holding arch may be used when a child loses baby teeth too early. It holds the permanent front teeth and molars in place so they don’t shift and crowd the teeth that haven’t had a chance to grow in yet. A holding arch for the upper jaw is sometimes called the “Nance button,” and lower jaw holding arches are called “lower lingual holding arches.”
Bite plates are acrylic, retainer-like appliances that correct “deep” bites. A deep bite occurs when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth so much that the lower incisors touch the gum tissue behind the upper incisors, leading to many complications. A bite plate creates a barrier between the lower incisors and the upper gum tissue and helps shift the teeth to decrease the overlap.
Let’s Get Those Teeth Moving!
Knowing the function of each part of your orthodontic appliance is an important component of effective treatment. The more you understand how everything works, the smoother things will go and the better your final result will be. So if you have any questions about how your braces work and what the different parts are for, don’t hesitate to ask!
You’re on your way to the smile of your dreams!
Top image by Flickr user Gordon used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.