Blog Post

How Do Braces Work? Your Questions Answered!
Posted on 09/22/2017
how do braces work

Having great teeth can do a lot: give us a boost of confidence, help to correct painful bites, or just close a pesky gap!

But how do braces work?

Believe it or not, braces have been around since Ancient Egypt -- in fact, mummies were discovered with makeshift bands wrapped around their teeth! Fortunately, things have come a long way since then. 

In this post, we're answering some of the most common questions surrounding how braces work. By the end, you'll be an expert -- and you'll feel a lot more secure heading into the process. 

at Are the Parts of Braces? 

Braces may be tiny, but they contain lots of parts that all work together to slowly straighten your teeth. First up on our journey to answer the question, "how do braces work?"

A brief understanding of the different parts. 


These are the tiny ceramic or metal links that are glued onto each of your teeth. 

Arch Wire

This is the long, thin piece of wire that connects your brackets. It's made from metal, and is designed to help to pull your teeth in towards one another, promoting correct alignment.

Bonding Material

This is essentially the (mouth-friendly!) glue that links your individual teeth to each bracket. 

Ligature Elastic

Also referred to as an "O-ring," these are the most well-known parts of braces as you can choose their color!

They exist to help connect the arch wire and the bracket. They do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to straightening your teeth, which is why they're usually tightened and switched out each time you visit your orthodontist. 


These are basically the "spacebar" button for your teeth -- and yes, sometimes they can take a bit of getting used to. Essentially, spacers go in between your individual teeth. This allows for the bands to be able to fit comfortably through.

Orthodontic Bands

These are elastic bands that, unlike ligature elastics, don't go on each individual tooth. Their job is to connect the archwire to the brackets. If your teeth don't require much straightening, it's unlikely you'll ever have to deal with them. 

There are a few more complicated components that you may or may not need to have, but these are the most common parts of braces. 

How Do Braces Work? 

Braces work by constantly putting pressure on your teeth, slowly encouraging them to move into the correct position. It's the arch wire that puts most of the pressure on your teeth, while many of the other parts (like the brackets) work to hold it in place. 

As mentioned above, if you have particularly stubborn teeth, you may find that you need to use things like rubber pants to increase the amount of pressure. 

Keep in mind though, that when you look in the mirror and open your mouth, you're not able to see your whole teeth. 

In fact, you're only seeing the very tops of your teeth! This is crucial to answering the question, "how do braces work?"

Your teeth are cushioned by the tissue of your gums, AKA your Gingiva. Underneath your gums, you have a Periodontal Membrane, which shields the lower half of your teeth. 

As your teeth are bone, the two "prong-like" portions of your teeth are fittingly called the Alveolar Bones. So while, yes, braces encourage your actual teeth to move, they also put pressure on the Periodontal Membrane. 

One side of this membrane will stretch out, allowing the teeth to move. The bars and bands will then push it from the other side -- creating enough space for the teeth to safely shift. 

Bone Remodeling: The Key To Answering "How Do Braces Work?"

We know that a phrase like "bone remodeling" might sound a bit intimidating, but that's exactly what braces do!

And that's a good thing -- because in the end, it actually strengthens your teeth.

In the same way that you get stronger every time you pump iron at the gym, so too do your teeth get stronger when they have to stand up to and work with the pressure that's being applied to them. 

In fact, this pressure helps to create new types of cells, which will help to give you better bone density. 

As we've mentioned, much of this remodeling process is done by the arch wire itself -- but the scientific reasons why are pretty fascinating. 

If you've ever worked with a piece of wire, you know that it can sometimes be tough to get it to bend in the way you want it to. Wire, obviously, wants to keep straight -- even in the mouth. 

But here's where it gets interesting: the heat inside of your mouth, which is usually somewhere around 98 degrees, forces that wire to bend into the curved shape of your set of teeth. 

But it will still want to straighten. 

This is where the pressure that moves your teeth into their new positions actually comes from. 

Ready to Get Braces? We're Here to Help

Now that you have a better understanding of how braces work, we hope that you're ready to start thinking about having braces put on!

No matter your age, profession, or even current confidence level, braces can improve your life in a variety of ways. Plus, if you're self-conscious about having the bands show, keep in mind that there are lots of clear band options out there. 

How long you need to wear the braces, as well as the parts required, will depend on how much your teeth need to move. 

No matter what your mouth looks like right now, we want to help you feel better about it. We provide orthodontia to a variety of patients, and we make it a focus to put personalized care and attention to every detail. 

Be sure to spend some time on our blog to learn more about what you can expect out of the process!

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how to make this the year you finally smiley without having anything to hold you back.