How Do Braces Actually Work? Understanding Their Components and Physical Mechanisms

How Do Braces Actually Work? Understanding Their Components and Physical Mechanisms

How Do Braces Actually Work? Understanding Their Components and Physical Mechanisms 1024 684 Dr Nino Gullotta

The story of braces is one of constant evolution and innovation. From the early days of bulky metal brackets and wires to the latest advancements in orthodontic technology, the field has seen remarkable transformations. But while the appearance and technology of braces has changed, the mechanics behind how braces work has stayed somewhat the same.

The Basics of Braces

Braces are a fundamental tool in orthodontic treatment, designed to correct a variety of dental issues. Understanding their basic principles can help demystify how they work and highlight their importance beyond just achieving a straight smile.

Braces apply continuous, controlled pressure to the teeth, in a certain direction. This pressure moves the teeth into specific, predetermined positions, over time. The idea is to align the teeth and jaw to create an even bite and straighten teeth, which not only enhances their appearance but also improves oral health as there are less nooks and crannies in which plaque and tartar can accumulate.

The mechanics involve a combination of brackets affixed to each tooth and wires that connect these brackets. The orthodontist periodically adjusts these wires to guide the teeth towards their intended position. This process is not instantaneous; it unfolds gradually over months or even years, depending on the individual’s needs and the complexity of their case.

What Problems Can Braces Fix?

Braces tackle a range of orthodontic issues. Whether it’s overcrowded teeth or gaps between them, braces exert the necessary pressure to bring the teeth into a more aligned arrangement. They are also used to effectively correct malocclusions – issues with the bite. These include overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites, each of which can lead to problems with chewing, speaking, and even oral hygiene.

By aligning the teeth and jaw, braces contribute to better oral function. This includes improved biting and chewing ability, and sometimes even alleviation of speech impediments caused by dental misalignments.

Components of Traditional Braces

To fully appreciate how braces work, it’s important to acknowledge the components that make up traditional braces. Each element plays a specific role in the orthodontic process, working in harmony to gradually move teeth into their optimal positions.


Brackets are the core components of braces. These are stuck to the teeth using special dental cement. They feature slots for the arch wire, ensuring precise control over the movement and angle of teeth. Additionally, ties on these brackets allow for the attachment of ligatures, securing the wire in place. Some brackets also include hooks for other components like elastics or coil springs, often found on brackets attached to canine and premolar teeth. They are usually made of metal or ceramic.

Arch Wires

Arch wires are the components that do most of the actual moving of the teeth when undergoing braces treatment and are made from materials like nickel titanium, stainless steel, or beta titanium. In the early phases, more flexible wires are often used to gently guide teeth towards the initial stages of alignment. As treatment progresses, stiffer wires may be employed to achieve more precise tooth positioning.

Molar Bands

Molar bands are specially designed for challenging teeth, like those not fully erupted or requiring additional appliances. These bands, fitted around molars, have slots for arch wires and sometimes tubes for headgear. They’re cemented in place, ensuring a secure connection to the rest of the braces.


Ligatures secure the arch wire to the brackets. They can be made from elastic materials, stretching over the bracket’s tie wings, or stainless steel, twisted around the tie wings. Elastic ligatures come in different colours and are changed at each orthodontic visit, while stainless steel ligatures are cut and tucked into place to prevent irritation.


Auxiliary components like power chains, elastics, and coil springs are sometimes used in orthodontic treatments. Power chains help close spaces between teeth, elastics adjust jaw positioning and can help fix bite issues, and coil springs create space in the jaw. Each serves a specific purpose in the comprehensive treatment plan to align teeth and jaws effectively.

How Braces Work

Braces work by taking advantage of the body’s natural biological ability to remodel bone, known as bone remodelling, combined with regular check-ins with your orthodontist, and time.

Bone Remodelling

Bone remodelling is the physiological process where the bones in the jaw adjust in response to the pressure exerted by braces. This process allows the teeth to move gradually into their new positions.

When braces apply pressure to the teeth, it leads to changes in the bone surrounding the tooth roots. On the side facing the pressure, bone resorption occurs (where bone is broken down), allowing the tooth to move. On the opposite side, new bone is formed in the space where the tooth once was, supporting the tooth in its new position.

Regular Check-ins With Your Orthodontist

Regular dental check-ins allow orthodontists to monitor progress and make essential adjustments to the braces. These visits are crucial for maintaining oral health, as braces can complicate hygiene practices, heightening the risk of plaque buildup and gum issues. Promptly addressing any braces-related concerns during these check-ups ensures your treatment remains on course.


The duration of treatment with braces varies significantly from one individual to another. Typically, braces need to be worn for about one to two years, but this can vary based on several factors, such as the severity of misalignment, your age, the type of braces, and how well after-care is undertaken.

LightForce Braces: The Next Generation of Orthodontics

LightForce braces are a revolutionary development in orthodontic technology, bringing a new level of personalisation to braces. These braces are 100% customisable, designed to exactly match the unique contours of your teeth.

How LightForce Braces Work

LightForce braces leverage advanced 3D printing technology, enabling each bracket to be uniquely designed for the individual tooth it will be attached to. This approach is a significant improvement on traditional braces, where brackets are standardised and not specifically tailored to the patient’s dental anatomy.

The customisation of LightForce braces allows for a precise application that aligns perfectly with the patient’s dental structure. This accuracy ensures the correct amount of force is used and in precisely the right direction, resulting in better results and shorter treatment periods.

Braces on the Gold Coast

From the components of traditional braces to the cutting-edge technology behind LightForce braces, having an understanding of how braces work allows you to make a more informed decision.

Ready to transform your smile? Contact Gullotta Orthodontics today to learn more or to schedule your consultation. Whether it’s traditional braces, LightForce braces, or aligners, our team is dedicated to providing you with the best orthodontic care and guiding you every step of the way towards achieving the smile you’ve always dreamed of.