Traditional metal braces have a lot of components that work together to give you the beautiful smile of your dreams. Whether you’re a new patient or have already started your treatment, let’s take a look at what these parts are and how they work!
Brackets are the little metal squares that are attached to your teeth. There are several different kinds of brackets that may be chosen based on which tooth it will be adhered to or what function the bracket needs to perform. One major job of the brackets is to hold the archwire, which we’ll talk about later on in this blog. They may have hooks or wings to which elastics or other orthodontic bands can be attached.
Molar bands are similar to the brackets but are specifically for your back teeth – called molars. Rather than sticking a square metal bracket to your molars, a small metal circle is fitted around each of your back teeth. They may also be used for teeth that are difficult to fit with a traditional bracket such as only partially erupted teeth.
The archwire is the thin metal wire that runs through each of your brackets and essentially connects your teeth to each other. When you go to get your braces tightened, it is the archwire that is being adjusted. The archwire’s job is to put gentle pressure on your teeth to slowly move them into their ideal position.
Ligatures are tiny elastic bands that connect brackets and the archwire together. They perform the really important function of evenly distributing the force or pressure used to straighten your teeth. Without the ligatures, only a portion of the archwire can be used to actively straighten your teeth.
Power chains are elastic chains that are used to close spaces between teeth. Most often power chairs are used to quickly move teeth when larger gaps are present. Power chains are typically used near the end of treatment.
Tiny coils, that look like springs, are used to adjust spacing and crowding issues. Active Coils can be used to push teeth together or to move them apart. The open coil spring slides onto the archwire and sits between two brackets. The placement puts force on both of the teeth to push them apart. A closed coil does the exact opposite. It exerts a contracting force that draws teeth together.
Elastics are very similar to ligatures. Small elastic bands, often called rubber bands, are connected from the top of your teeth to the bottom. The placement of elastics is most often employed to correct bite problems when the top and bottom teeth don’t fit together properly.
Archwires and Ligatures and Elastics, Oh My!
When you look at the various parts of braces, it can be overwhelming to keep up with. Hopefully, you understand a little more than you did before you began reading. But even if you don’t, there’s good news – you don’t have to! Leave the confusing stuff to us. Dr. Campbell and her team are experts in orthodontics and know each of these parts backward and forwards. You’re in good hands at Campbell Orthodontics!