How Do Braces Work: A Complete Guide to Getting Braces

May 3, 2023

Having a beautiful smile can greatly impact your confidence and overall appearance. If you're considering braces to straighten your teeth, it's important to understand how they work. Braces use steady pressure on your teeth over a period of time, slowly moving them in a specific direction to create a more aesthetic and aligned smile.

This process not only changes the appearance of your teeth but also the supporting bone structure for lasting results.

During treatment, brackets are attached to your teeth and connected by wires, which are adjusted periodically by your orthodontist to maintain the desired pressure.

As your teeth shift, the bone underneath changes shape, allowing your teeth to move into their new positions. This gradual process requires time and patience, but the end result will be a smile you can be proud of.

Knowing what to expect during the treatment process can help ease any anxieties you might have about getting braces. Although the initial application of braces can feel uncomfortable, this discomfort typically subsides as you adjust to the orthodontic appliance.

Regular follow-up appointments will allow your orthodontist to assess your progress and make any necessary adjustments to keep your teeth moving in the right direction. With proper care and maintenance of your braces, you'll be well on your way to achieving the smile you've always wanted.


Braces work by applying pressure on your teeth over time, guiding them to gradually move in a specific direction. The pressure also causes the bone beneath your teeth to change shape, ensuring proper alignment and long-term results.

To begin the process, your dentist or orthodontist bonds a bracket onto each tooth. These brackets are usually made of stainless steel, but may be made of ceramic for aesthetic purposes. A thin, flexible archwire is then placed over the brackets, and tiny elastic bands called ligatures secure the wire in place.

The reason braces are effective is that they utilize your body’s natural ability to adapt to the pressure. As your teeth move, the ligaments and bone around them remodel, allowing the teeth to continue shifting into their proper positions. Throughout the treatment period, your orthodontist will routinely adjust the braces to maintain the desired pressure and progress.

How Do Braces Move My Teeth?


Bands help secure the braces to your teeth. They're typically made from stainless steel and fit snugly around each tooth to support the brackets and archwires. By maintaining the structure of your braces, bands contribute to the gentle pressure that shifts your teeth into proper alignment.

Glued Brackets

Brackets, made of stainless steel or ceramic, are glued directly onto your teeth. They hold the archwires in place, allowing them to apply constant pressure on your teeth, and gradually move them to the predetermined position.

Archwires (Wire Connectors)

Archwires are the main components that exert pressure on your teeth, guiding them into alignment. They're typically made of stainless steel, nickel-titanium, or copper-nickel-titanium, and connect to the brackets, ensuring constant force is applied to move your teeth.


Spacers are small rubber bands or plastic rings placed between your teeth to create space for bands and buccal tubes. They help ensure the brackets and bands fit properly on your teeth, facilitating effective tooth movement.

Buccal Tubes

Buccal tubes are small metal attachments on the back molars, which serve as anchors for the archwires and support the entire braces system. They play a crucial role in stabilizing your teeth during movement.


Springs, made from stainless steel or titanium, are placed on the archwires between brackets to help push, pull, or maintain space between your teeth. They assist with applying consistent pressure to specific teeth, enabling targeted alignment corrections.


Ligatures, usually small rubber bands (elastics) or thin wires, secure the archwires to the brackets. They're essential for holding the archwires in place, allowing them to exert the necessary pressure on your teeth to move them.


Elastics, or rubber bands, connect the brackets on your upper and lower teeth. They apply additional forces to assist in correcting your bite and jaw alignment, working in conjunction with the other components of your braces system.

Types of Braces

There are several types of braces available to suit your needs and preferences, each with their unique benefits.

  • Traditional Metal Braces: These are made from stainless steel bands, brackets, and wires, which gently shift your teeth over time. Brackets are bonded to each tooth and connected by a thin, flexible archwire. Tiny elastic bands called ligatures keep the wire firmly in place. Metal braces are visible when you smile.

  • Ceramic Braces: Similar in function to metal braces, these use tooth-colored or clear brackets and wires, making them less noticeable. Ceramic braces are a popular choice among adult patients seeking a more discreet option.

  • Invisible Braces: Also known as clear aligners or Invisalign, these are virtually invisible, removable plastic trays that fit over your teeth. They exert gentle pressure on your teeth, gradually guiding them into the desired position.

  • Lingual Braces: Like traditional metal braces, lingual braces use metal brackets and wires, but they are placed on the inner side of your teeth, making them virtually invisible. However, they may be more challenging to clean and maintain.

When choosing the right treatment, it's essential to consider factors such as your budget, treatment duration, and appearance preferences. Consult with an orthodontist to determine the best option for your specific needs.

Will Having Braces Hurt?

Getting braces usually doesn't hurt during the installation process, which takes between one to two hours. However, you may experience some discomfort during the first week as your teeth start to adjust to the braces. This discomfort is caused by the pressure on your teeth and increased sensitivity3.

To help alleviate any pain, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers as needed. Additionally, you may also experience some cuts and scratches from the metal brackets and wires, especially as you adapt to your new braces. You can use orthodontic wax or other soft materials to cover the sharp edges of the braces, reducing irritation and making your braces-wearing experience more comfortable.

Remember to give your mouth some time to adjust, as the discomfort typically subsides within a week or two as your teeth start to move and align according to the braces' design.

How Fast is Mouth Braces Treatment?

Your braces treatment time largely depends on the severity of misalignment and the type of braces you choose. Typically, it takes between 1 and 3 years for orthodontic treatment to be complete. However, various factors influence this duration, such as patient compliance and age.

During the treatment, your orthodontist will monitor your progress and adjust the braces to apply steady pressure on your teeth. It's essential to follow your orthodontist's instructions to ensure an efficient and effective treatment plan.

Some patients might start noticing changes in their teeth after four weeks, but on average, visible changes typically occur within two to three months. Remember, each case is unique, so discuss your expectations and timeline with your orthodontist for a personalized treatment plan.

Are Braces Expensive?

Braces can be a significant investment, but the cost varies depending on the type you choose. Traditional metal braces are often the least expensive option, with costs ranging from $3,000 to $7,500 . Ceramic braces, which use tooth-colored or clear brackets, tend to be more expensive than metal braces but are less noticeable .

If you have dental insurance, it may help cover some of the costs associated with braces for yourself or your dependent children. The extent of coverage will depend on your provider and the services recommended by your orthodontist. It's essential to review your insurance plan and speak with your dental care provider to understand the extent of coverage available to you.

To make braces more affordable, orthodontists may offer payment plans or financing options. Additionally, you might be eligible for flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts to help offset the cost of braces. Overall, it's crucial to explore various sources of financial assistance and discuss your options with your orthodontist to find the best solution to fit your needs and budget.

Braces for Kids vs Adults

When considering orthodontic treatment, it's essential to understand the differences between braces for kids and adults. While the basic principles of how braces work remain the same - applying pressure to shift teeth into their desired position - there are some distinctions in treatment approaches and types of braces.

For children, braces are often more effective because their bones are still growing and forming, making it easier for teeth to move. Treatment usually begins around age 10-14 when most adult teeth have come through. Common braces types for kids include traditional metal braces and ceramic braces.

As an adult, your options for braces also include traditional metal braces and ceramic braces. Additionally, you may consider other options like Damon braces or Invisalign. Keep in mind that adult braces treatments might take longer due to the maturity of the jawbone and teeth.

In both cases, you may require additional orthodontic appliances such as:

  • Retainers: These are used after braces treatment to maintain the new position of your teeth.
  • Mini-braces: These can be an alternative for individuals with minor alignment issues or dental crowding.

Remember to consult with your orthodontist about the most suitable braces option for you or your child, taking into account the specific needs and desired outcomes of the treatment.

How do I Maintain My Braces?

To ensure your dental braces remain effective, it's essential to follow some simple care guidelines. Begin by attending all your scheduled appointments with your orthodontist. These visits allow your orthodontist to make necessary adjustments and monitor your progress. In addition, regular dental check-ups and cleanings can help prevent complications related to poor oral hygiene.

Paying close attention to your daily oral care routine is crucial. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, carefully cleaning around the brackets and wires. Floss daily, using special floss threaders, a water flosser, or an interdental brush if necessary.

Pay attention to your diet as well. Avoiding hard, sticky, and chewy foods can prevent breakage or damage to your braces, brackets, and wires. Instead, opt for softer foods and cut larger items into smaller pieces.

Lastly, invest in a mouthguard if you participate in any sports or activities with a risk of facial injury. This protective gear can help prevent damage to your braces and teeth. By following these care tips, you'll keep your braces in good condition while working towards a straighter, healthier smile.


In summary, braces work by applying continuous pressure on your teeth, gradually shifting them into the desired position. This process involves bonding brackets to your teeth and connecting them with wires, which are secured with elastics or bracket clips.

Throughout your treatment, your orthodontist will tighten the wires and change the elastics every 4 to 6 weeks to maintain consistent pressure on the teeth. Your orthodontist may use different types of brackets, such as stainless steel or ceramic, depending on your unique needs and aesthetic preferences.

By following your orthodontist's recommendations and keeping up with regular adjustment appointments, you can achieve a straighter smile and improved overall oral health. It's essential to maintain good oral hygiene throughout the process to maximize the effectiveness of your braces and minimize any potential complications.


How do braces work to correct crowding, overbite, and crooked teeth?

Braces work by exerting constant pressure on your teeth, causing them to gradually move and straighten. The pressure from braces affects your jawbone, stimulating a process involving osteoblasts and osteoclasts that remodel the bone around the root of the tooth to facilitate movement, according to Healthline. An orthodontist will adjust your braces every few months to ensure the appropriate pressure is applied throughout the treatment.

What components make up braces?

Braces consist of several parts, including brackets, wires, and bands. Brackets are typically glued to the front of your teeth using a bonding agent and act as anchors for the device. Wires and bands connect the brackets, applying pressure on the teeth to encourage movement.

What is the role of an orthodontist in the braces treatment process?

Orthodontists are responsible for planning and executing your braces treatment. They will assess your dental condition, determine the type of braces best suited for you, and oversee the entire process. Regular visits to the orthodontist are crucial to adjust the pressure and monitor the progress of your treatment.

Are retainers necessary after braces?

Yes, following the removal of your braces, your orthodontist will recommend wearing a retainer. Retainers help maintain the new alignment of your teeth by applying a minimal amount of pressure on the periodontal ligament. This ensures that your teeth do not shift back to their original position.

Can nickel titanium headgear be a part of braces treatment?

In some cases, orthodontists might use headgear with nickel titanium as a means of applying additional outside force to the teeth and jaw. This can aid in correcting more complex issues related to alignment or bite.

Ready to get started with your Orthodontic treatment?  Then schedule your smile assessment with Wilde Orthodontics today. We can help you determine which orthodontic treatment will be best.

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