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How Do Braces Work to Straighten Your Teeth?

Closeup young woman checking her braces, smiling

Your smile is the first thing that people see when they meet you. More than 30% of people smile more than 20 times a day.

We have a subconscious innate drive to smile when we see someone that we know or meet someone new. It makes sense to want your smile to be the best that it can be.

Having crooked teeth can leave an individual feeling depressed or like an outcast. This is where braces can help.

But how do braces work? The science of orthodontics is fascinating, and the way that braces help someone achieve a beautiful smile is truly a fantastic thing.

Scroll down to learn more about how braces help you achieve that perfect smile.

What Do Braces Do?

It isn’t just about crooked teeth. Braces will also correct an abnormal bite.

Having a bad bite can cause several issues. Having a bad bite is called malocclusion.

Also known as crowded teeth, a crossbite, an overbite, an underbite, and an open bite, malocclusion can cause many different issues.

None of your teeth should be rotated or twisted. Furthermore, your upper jaw’s teeth should slightly overlap your lower jaw’s teeth. The pointed ridges of your molars should fit into the grooves of the opposite molars.

Malocclusion can cause speech problems, improper teeth alignment, and discomfort while chewing, amongst other things.

Braces correct these bite issues in addition to remedying those crooked teeth.

Crooked teeth can cause pockets of space to form between your teeth and around your gums, where excessive plaque builds up, and tooth decay is expedited. Braces correct these issues.

What Are the Components of Braces?

There are many components to braces, all which play integral roles in correcting your pearly whites.


Brackets are the small squares that are bonded directly to the front of every tooth. Every bracket holds the archwire, which moves the teeth. You may have seen colorful brackets and even glow-in-the-dark ones.

Brackets are available in a variety of colors. They are also available in stainless steel, plastic, or ceramic. They are even available in tooth color to blend better with the teeth.


The archwire attaches to the brackets we just mentioned. This wire is what guides the movement of the teeth. Typically, they are made of metal, and they continue to pull the teeth in the right direction to either become straight or correct a bite.

Orthodontic Bands

These bands wrap around some of the teeth (usually the molars) to provide anchors for those brackets and archwire.

They are cemented to the teeth, just like the brackets to ensure a sturdy hold. Not all patients need them.


Spacers are what fit between your teeth and create space so that orthodontic bands can be fitted in between the teeth later on.


The ligatures are those small rubber rings which fasten the archwire to the brackets. They can be either clear or colored, depending on the patient’s preference.


The elastics are what attach to hooks on the brackets to connect the upper and lower teeth. These are essential when it comes to correcting a bite. They apply pressure so that the teeth move to achieve a proper bite and the perfect fit.

How Do Braces Work?

The idea behind braces is to apply pressure in the right areas to train the teeth to turn or the bite to align.

Before your orthodontist begins to apply the different components of your new braces, he’ll apply a cheek retractor that holds the cheeks and lips away from the teeth.

Tooth surfaces are then sterilized to prepare them for the glue.

There are different types of brackets, and specific ones are required for certain teeth.

A special light is used to set the bracket on the glue, and once they’re cemented on, the archwire is applied. The wire is what puts the pressure on the teeth. It’s what returns them to their natural position to begin creating that perfect smile.

Rubber bands are used when your bite is particularly off, or your teeth are especially crooked. The bands reinforce the job of the wire, which puts even more pressure on your teeth.

What braces are doing is remodeling the bones in your mouth. The same way that your muscles grow stronger when they work hard against counter pressure at the gym, your teeth become stronger when they work hard against the pressure of the archwire.

The Wire Is the Most Interesting Part

One exciting aspect of the way braces work is the fact that the heat of your mouth plays an integral role in the process of fixing your smile.

The heat of your mouth is what forces the archwire to bend and curve into the shape of your pearly whites.

However, the wire WANTS to straighten. So that pressure that occurs by the wire wanting to straighten to its natural position is the pressure that works towards straightening your smile.

Remember that wearing braces is half the battle to a brighter, straighter smile. While your braces do their job of realigning your teeth, it’s up to you to do YOUR job of practicing good hygiene. Knowing how to clean your braces is the other crucial half of the battle towards achieving those perfect pearly whites.

How Do Braces Work Is Fascinating

Knowing how do braces work makes the process even more interesting. There are many components involved and getting them to fit your teeth just so is almost a perfect science.

The fact that your body temperature works against the wire to straighten your teeth is impressive.

Is your child nervous for braces despite knowing the science behind them? Here are some tips to help your kids prepare for braces.

Are you ready to schedule your consultation? Contact us to make an appointment or to ask any questions you may have!

Schedule your FREE first appointment today!

Your first visit includes a full exam, x-rays, & consultation with Dr. Ogden—all for free!

About the Author: Robert T. Ogden, D.D.S.

Dr. Robert T. Ogden D.D.S. is an independent orthodontist serving Central Florida since 1994, and is proud to be the affordable option for local families who want straight teeth that lead to perfect smiles, all backed by a kind and friendly staff that instantly makes you feel at home. We take the time to explain all of your options, from In-Ovation C clear braces or SPEED System metal braces to clear aligners like Invisalign™. Plus, our state-of-the-art offices are designed to make your visit as fast and comfortable as possible. Schedule your free consultation today!

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Living with Braces
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