Braces in Richmond, TX | Elara Orthodontics

Braces in Richmond, TX

At Elara Orthodontics, we are committed to provide the highest quality braces for our patients in Richmond, TX. We employ some of the nation’s top doctors and dental specialists in our state of art office located on Westheimer Rd between Fondren & Gessner.

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How do braces work?

Braces are one of the main possible tools the orthodontist can use to move teeth and correct the bite to the ideal position. Braces are like a handle on the tooth that we orthodontists utilize to direct teeth to move one way or another, using arch wires and other adjuncts.

Once braces are bonded on your teeth, wires are inserted to guide the bracket (and therefore the tooth) to the correct position slowly over time. Arch wires, springs, or rubber bands are all used to create pressure on the teeth to move teeth in a specific direction utilizing constant pressure. Teeth are surrounded by periodontal ligaments and bone that keep them in place, particularly around the roots and underneath the gums. When braces put pressure on your teeth, the periodontal ligaments stretch on the side the tooth is moving away from and compress the side the tooth is moving towards.

This biological process is called bone remodeling and it occurs as cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts are both present around the teeth and create the interplay of bone resorption on the compression side (allowing the tooth to move towards it), while bone is being formed at the stretching tension side to fill in the gap created by tooth movement.

Due to the delicate nature of the balance between bone deposition (formation), and bone resorption, the most efficient orthodontic movement occurs when forces are kept to light and consistent forces to avoid disruption of the bone remodeling process. It’s important to note that bone formation takes a significant amount of time, therefore teeth can “relapse” or fall back into their original position if they are not held in place for a long enough time. This is why retainers are of critical importance after removal of braces and must be worn as instructed by your treating orthodontist. Retainers are discussed in more detail in a separate page.

Bone remodeling process is fundamental for tooth movement, and it follows the teeth as they are being forced to move into alignment which is dictated by the orthodontic wire, and the bends placed in that wire by the orthodontist. The brackets have to be placed in their ideal precise positions. Once a light straight wire is placed in the correctly placed braces, this will start the movement process as the wire tries to go back to its original straight shape due to its highly flexible Nickel-Titanium properties. Once the teeth are close straight, the very fine-tuning process, also known as the finishing and detailing starts. This is where orthodontists utilize their expertise to place very delicate bends in the wire with high precision to give you a truly perfect smile!

A brief overview about the components of braces will help understand this process easier.

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Brackets

These are the building blocks for moving teeth. There are many different types of braces (or brackets), that we have discussed in detail here. They are bonded to each tooth with a special adhesive according to the specifications that your doctor laid out in his or her treatment plan. Each tooth will have a specific bracket that was fabricated in accordance to the needs of the final position of that tooth in the arch to create a beautiful smile. Each type of bracket also comes in many different sizes, and brands. They are similar for the most part, and they often have small hooks for placement of rubber bands or other auxiliaries.

Braces are sometimes attached to your teeth through a round metal band that goes over teeth in a similar fashion to a crown, and the bracket is soldered to that band. However, in modern orthodontics most of the teeth will have the brackets directly bonded on the teeth using adhesive glue. Bands are only used when specific difficult movements are required, or when an appliance has to be custom-made for your treatment needs.

Wires

This is a thin piece of metal that inserts into the brackets from one end to another. It can be made of many different types that are commonly utilized throughout any orthodontic treatment; each material has different properties that serve different purposes. Nickel-titanium wires for example are very flexible and exhibit a phenomenon called “Shape Memory”. When a straight Nickel-titanium archwire is placed into brackets on crooked teeth, the wire will quickly deform to match the brackets. Over time, the wire returns to its original shape due to the so-called Shape Memory, and thereby bringing the teeth into alignment.

In essence, while brackets are needed to act as a handle or a grip on each tooth, it’s the wire that ultimately applies pressure on each tooth. Your orthodontist will change the shape and curvature of that wire in order to move your teeth in the right direction.

Elastic ligatures (O-rings or O-ties)

In traditional braces, to place a wire into the brackets and ensure that it does not move out of place, a method of ligation is required to fix it in place. The most often ligatures used are elastic ligatures which are small round elastic ties that go over the bracket wings with the wire in place to ensure that it does not displace outside of the bracket. They are either colorful or transparent, and the patients get to pick their favorite color every visit since they are usually changed regularly by your orthodontist. They are also known as “O-rings” or “O-ties” due to their shape. Ligatures are probably the most popular component of braces in Richmond, TX among our patients since they provide the fun colorful experience! They also play a very significant role as their activation helps push wire into place, which is why they are often changed every visit to maintain their activation force.

Sometimes, thin metallic wires are used to place the wire in the brackets instead of the elastic ligatures. These wires are also known as steel ligature ties as they perform the same task as elastic ligatures. They are often used when a tooth is so far out of place that stronger force is needed to ensure the wire is kept in place to allow for adequate tooth movement.

O-rings or steel ties are not used in a type of braces called “self-ligating” brackets. Self-ligating brackets do not need any extra ligatures as they have “doors” or “gates” that can open and close to insert the wire and keep it in place. There are different companies that manufacture self-ligating brackets such as Damon braces or the SPEED system.

Elastics (Orthodontic Rubber Bands)

Elastics are another crucial part of most orthodontic treatments, and they are usually referred to as rubber bands. They are often required to be worn by the patients during treatment in order to align your bite and adjust the relationship between the upper and lower teeth and how they bite together. There are different types and direction patterns of the rubber bands, and it all depends on the treatment that your orthodontist has planned for you. Rubber bands will apply extra forces in the designated direction to move the entire upper or lower arch, or a group of teeth simultaneously in relation to the other arch.

Patients have to replace the rubber bands two or three times a day, and they also need to be removed when eating and placed again immediately after. Orthodontic rubber bands work best when worn full-time by the patients and are only removed when eating. However, some rubber bands are meant to be worn at night-time only, or for 14 hours/day.

Rubber bands vary significantly, and the orthodontist will determine for how long they should be worn for each rubber band they prescribe. They may seem difficult at first, but all patients adapt to it within a few days, and they often become experts at placing them!

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