ANYONE WHO HAS or had braces has noticed the different parts and probably wondered what role they perform in orthodontic treatment. Some patients just have the basics: brackets, archwires, and O-rings, while others have extra components to correct a more complex issue.
Brackets, Archwires, and O-Rings
The brackets serve as the anchor points. We place them very precisely on each tooth. Then comes the archwire, which can come in different thicknesses and be made of different materials depending on what we want it to do. The archwire remembers its original shape and applies pressure on the brackets (and, in turn, the teeth) over time to return to that shape. The colorful O-rings keep the archwire fastened to the brackets but allows it to slide a little when necessary.
Elastics for Malocclusions
A common and simple add-on is the elastic band. These correct bad bites by applying pressure to the jaws to move into a better alignment. They only work on schedule if the patient uses them EXACTLY as instructed. Skipping them here or there will delay treatment, but so will doubling up! Don’t try to outsmart the orthodontist’s plan; it came from years of training and experience.
Other Common Braces Add-Ons
Braces are sometimes preceded by spacers to make room for them. Some patients require a palatal expander to correct a narrow palate, crowding, and/or crossbites. Holding arches can keep the space open if a child loses a baby tooth too early. If a patient has a deep bite, we can correct it with a bite plate.