Have you ever wondered how metal braces actually work? It's common understanding that braces move teeth by applying pressure. But what does that really involve and what do arch wires have to do with it? What are the elastics for and why do people with braces need to wear them? What is the difference between single arch wire and dual arch wire braces?
The Role of the Arch Wire
If you or someone you know already has metal braces, you’ve probably noticed that there are a few components to them: the brackets that are glued to the teeth, the arch wires that run through the teeth, and the elastics that need to be changed regularly.
When it comes to the job of moving teeth, closing gaps, and fixing crooked teeth, it’s the arch wires that do the bulk of the work in conjunction with the elastics. The brackets merely hold the arch wires in place and allow them to do their job. So what really happens?
The arch wire applies constant pressure to the teeth in order to move them and straighten them out. The elastics supply the tension. And the brackets just hold it all in place.
Often, the arch wire will be bent at various points along its length. This is intended to apply more or less pressure to certain teeth. For example, if a single tooth sticks out more than the others, it may need extra pressure applied to it, and so the wire is bent inwards to apply additional pressure.
SureSmile technology makes this whole process easier and faster because it provides the orthodontist with an accurate 3D model of the teeth so that the arch wires can be bent into a shape that will move the teeth more efficiently into a final position.
The Importance of Constant Pressure
The process of moving teeth, correcting jaw alignment, and fixing crooked teeth is called remodelling. As the arch wires apply direct pressure to the teeth, bone cells form and disappear around the root of the tooth and it is moved little by little.
If you’ve ever wondered why your orthodontist makes it very clear that it’s very important to wear your Invisalign aligners and keep your elastics in, it’s because the more that the pressure is applied, the more effectively and efficiently the teeth are moved.
What are Arch Wires Made from?
Did you know that in the early days of orthodontic practice, arch wires could be made from gold, platinum, or silver? It seems strange to thing about people wearing gold braces, but these noble metals were once considered superior because of their resistance to corrosion and their durability.
These days, arch wires for braces are generally made from stainless steel, although they can also be made from nickel-titanium and beta-titanium. In all cases, the arch wires present a mix of tensile strength, high ductility, anti-corrosion, and durability.
The arch wires themselves need to have certain features in order to be useful in orthodontics. For example, if the wire is made of an alloy that is too soft, it is more likely to move out of shape and apply uneven pressure. Similarly, if a wire is too stuff, it’s a lot harder to bend it into shape and apply an exact amount of pressure.
There have been quite a few advances in metallurgy over the decades, and this has all contributed to better, stronger, and more durable arch wires in modern orthodontic practice. This also means that modern braces are more efficient and effective than ever before.
Single and Dual Arch Wire Braces
You might have seen people around with braces only on the top or bottom row of teeth. This is called single arch wire braces. Sometimes, a single arch wire can be put in place to correct certain issues. For example, when the bottom row of teeth are straight and a person is happy with them but the top row presents a significant overbite and gaps, a set of single arch wire braces on the top row may be used to correct them.
Dual arch wire braces are what most people are used to seeing. This is where the arch wires and brackets are on the top and bottom rows of teeth. In either case, the braces are just as effective and are used to correct certain specific issues.
Where single arch wires could be a problem is when they move a single row of teeth too far back and the teeth themselves come into contact too closely together. This can actually result in excessive pressure on the teeth and can cause chips, wear, and fractures.
Factors that Influence Orthodontic Treatment
The jaw and the teeth form a complex arrangement and it’s important that any orthodontic treatment takes all of these factors into account. For example, as we age our bites become deeper and our front teeth change position to overlap a bit more. This will influence what kind of orthodontic treatment is required and whether single or dual wire arch braces are going to be more effective.
What Treatment is Right for You?
Whether single or dual arch wire braces, your best guide is always your orthodontist. The fact is that you have the option to take advantage of technologies like SureSmile, which results in arch wires that can move teeth into a final position more efficiently and effectively. And even if you opt for another treatment, such as Invisalign, modern orthodontics is very effective.
Book a consultation with Profile Orthodontics to discuss the best treatment to suit you and your lifestyle.