What are braces and how do they straighten your teeth

What are braces?

Most likely, we all know someone who has or used to have braces. Braces are a common treatment option to not only straighten teeth, but also improve your bite. A proper bite is necessary for chewing, speaking, and the health of your jaws.

What are the types of braces?

How Do They Straighten Your Teeth

Ceramic braces

Ceramic braces are much like traditional metal braces but are less noticeable as they are tooth-colored. Yet, depending on certain foods or beverages consumed, they may tend to stain overtime. In addition, ceramic braces tend to be more expensive than metal braces, and have been found to be more likely to fracture.

Lingual braces

Looking to hide your braces? Lingual braces are an alternative option to traditional braces for those who do not want their braces to show. These braces are placed on the back side of the teeth facing toward the tongue and the roof of the mouth. As with any orthodontic treatment, your dental professional will determine if lingual braces are suitable for your case.


Aligners are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to help straighten teeth. Clear aligners are less noticeable than traditional braces and can be removed when eating and brushing and flossing your teeth. Talk with your dentist to see if you are a good candidate for clear aligners.

What are the main parts of braces?


Braces consist of either metal or ceramic (tooth-colored) brackets that are temporarily bonded to your teeth.


The teeth are connected together by a wire that is held into each bracket slot. The wire applies a constant light pressure to your teeth to help them move. Archwires come in different sizes and materials. For instance, archwires are commonly made of stainless steel, nickel titanium, or copper titanium.

Bonding glue

An orthodontic bonding material is used to help braces stick to your teeth. When your braces are put on, your teeth will be cleaned, air-dried, and then the bonding glue will be placed on along with the brackets.


Spacers are commonly used in orthodontics to help create space between your teeth. Spacers are used for a short period of time. They are made of a rubber material or can be made of metal. Your dental professional will inform you if spacers are needed.


The archwires are held into place by small elastic or metal ties. The elastic ties come in numerous colors that you can choose to match your style. These ligatures are changed at each appointment as they lose strength overtime.

Do braces hurt?

Don’t worry, the design of braces is more comfortable than ever before. During tooth movement you may feel some discomfort, but it is fleeting and typically is gone after a few days. Orthodontic wax can be used to help relieve any irritation that the braces may cause to your gums or cheeks.

Who requires braces?

After a thorough clinical exam, your dental professional will determine if you are a good candidate for orthodontic treatment. Depending on the alignment of your teeth, your dentist may recommend braces or another type of orthodontic appliance to help improve your smile. Although braces are commonly seen on school-aged children, you are never too old for braces. In fact, braces are becoming increasingly popular among adults.

Specific treatment plans and length of treatment vary based on each individual person, but typically treatment ranges between one to three years. Without treatment, oral health issues like tooth decay, gum disease, tooth fracture, jaw problems, as well as trouble speaking and chewing could potentially be a consequence.

Why may one require braces?

Some of the common reasons braces are used is to correct tooth crowding or crooked teeth, spacing between teeth, teeth that are too far forward (overjet), teeth that are stuck within the jaws, teeth that do not come together (open bite), upper front teeth that are positioned behind your lower teeth (underbite), and upper teeth that are too far overlapping your bottom teeth (overbite).

The effect of braces on your teeth

Braces apply a continuous light force to your teeth to help them move within the jawbone. In some cases, patients may be instructed to use elastic rubber bands placed on the hooks of specified teeth to help move them into their correct positions. Patient compliance is a key component of orthodontic treatment and is necessary for successful outcomes and to help avoid prolonging treatment time. The positions of the teeth and roots are monitored during regular adjustment appointments.

Our doctors and dental specialists provide a wide range of dental services at our 40+ multi-specialty dental offices across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Our dental team is compassionate, and our main goal is to provide you a comfortable, caring dental experience. Book an appointment at your local Gentle Dental today.