Boca Dental and Braces are used to straighten crooked teeth and improve the appearance of your smile. They can also help you chew more comfortably and prevent future dental problems, such as gum disease or tooth decay.
During treatment, you will visit your dentist or orthodontist regularly. During your evaluation, they will take x-rays of your mouth and teeth, make impressions and other records, and discuss a treatment plan.
If you’ve ever read a textbook or newspaper, odds are that you’ve come across brackets. Brackets are punctuation marks that look like square-shaped parentheses. These unique symbols are used to group expressions and numbers and help us understand how they relate. Mastering brackets is like acquiring a math superpower – it enables you to make sense of complicated equations and problems and dissect them into their parts.
In orthodontics, brackets hold and support the archwire, which places consistent pressure on your teeth to move them in the direction the doctor wants them to go. The brackets are bonded to the front of your teeth and are often made of ceramic or porcelain for aesthetic reasons. They may be smooth or textured, with hooks or not, and can be angled or straight. There are even “self-ligating” brackets, with a little door that opens and closes to hold the archwire.
While there are many different types of brackets, they all work the same way. The archwire goes through the brackets and is held by the ligatures. Ligatures are small rubber bands that connect one bracket to another. They come in various colors and are changed during every appointment, although patients can save their old ones for a special treat! Some brackets also have hooks that can be used for elastic rubber bands, bite ramps, coil springs, or palatal expanders.
Some common reasons for broken brackets include eating hard or sticky foods (including ice!) or biting down on pen caps, fingernails, or other objects. These habits are very hard to break, but if your bracket becomes loose or breaks, call us and schedule an appointment immediately. This is important because it can disrupt the balance of your treatment plan, cause unwanted movements, and delay tooth movement.
It’s also very important to follow our instructions regarding what you can and cannot eat with your braces on, as this is the biggest factor in keeping them intact. Eating too many crunchy or sticky foods can break a bracket, and chewing on hard objects can damage the edges of the brackets and make it difficult for the archwire to apply proper pressure.
Misaligned teeth, or malocclusion, are more than a cosmetic concern. Gaps in the teeth, overcrowding, and other malocclusion can make eating and speaking difficult and increase one’s risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Fortunately, modern orthodontic treatment can correct these issues in a few months and leave patients with healthy, straight smiles.
The most common method of treating malocclusion with braces involves using elastic bands, which apply additional force to specific areas of the mouth to help shift the teeth into proper alignment. These bands are typically called rubber bands or elastics and can come in various shapes, sizes, and force categories. Your treatment plan will determine the type and size of elastics you must wear.
Typically, elastics are made of either latex or synthetic materials. While both types are safe to contact the gums, a recent study suggests that latex bands provide more stable force over time than their synthetic counterparts. Regardless of the type of elastics, you’ll need to wear; your orthodontist will give detailed instructions on how to place and remove them.
Rubber bands are typically attached to a bracket via small metal ties or tiny elastic bands called ligatures. A ligature connects the band to the bracket, which helps transfer the added force of the elastic to the teeth and bones of the jaw. While elastics can be a vital part of your orthodontic treatment, it is important to remember that the additional pressure they exert on your teeth and jaw will take some time to become comfortable. This is especially true if you are wearing the elastics daily.
You should avoid eating hard or chewy foods that can damage the teeth or gums when wearing elastics. In addition, you should be careful when drinking liquids that could cause your elastics to dislodge or fall off. While rare, a loose or missing elastic may work under the gums and pull out a tooth. To prevent this, you should always wear your elastics as instructed by your orthodontist.
Ligatures are the tiny elastic bands used to anchor the main archwire to the brackets on each tooth. They are available in many colors and are routinely checked, adjusted, or replaced at each orthodontic checkup appointment. Ligatures work to provide the necessary pressure to guide teeth into alignment and close spaces. They are also important in correcting the slight extrusion of a single tooth in infra occlusion or accelerating the expected results of fixed appliances.
The ligature materials are often made from surgical steel power chains. They can be in various shapes (delta or V-shaped rubber bands), depending on the needs of each case. Ligatures are usually only needed for short periods because prolonged use may cause the roots of the teeth to shorten.
Ligature ties are typically changed with every visit to the orthodontist, so they must remain clear. However, some patients prefer that the ligatures be colorful to add a personal touch to their orthodontic treatment. The orthodontist can make a recommendation as to what types of ligatures are best for each patient.
In modern fonts, ligatures are not always required, but they can help to improve connections between letters. Standard ligatures include fi and fl, but they can also be used to connect the outgoing stroke of an uppercase o to its lowercase counterparts (tz in German) or to form the ch and ck ligature in old Fraktur fonts.
In addition to ligatures, orthodontists use a variety of small metal clips known as squibs to assist in the closing of spaces between teeth. These are especially useful for correcting small spaces in the front teeth or the lingual aspect of the upper and lower arch. They are also used to close the space left by extractions, to correct the position of a single tooth, or to make room for expansion of the upper or lower jaw. They are most commonly placed behind the upper front teeth and on the molars, but they can also be used in the lower arch or on the molars of the back teeth.
Arch wires provide the constant, gradual pressure that moves teeth into alignment. Depending on the treatment plan, they vary in size, shape, and material. An orthodontist may also use elastics (rubber bands) and metal ligatures to help apply the proper amount of pressure on the teeth.
A basic orthodontic arch wire has a small diameter and is super-elastic. These are used at the beginning of treatment to place gentle but consistent pressure on the misaligned teeth. As your treatment progresses, the orthodontist will change to a thicker, less elastic archwire that is stiffer and allows them to control the movement of individual teeth more accurately. These wires can also be bent to add more pressure to specific teeth or correct any bite issues.
The archwire has a bending limit that it can’t exceed, or it will lose its memory and become permanently deformed. The bending limit is important because it ensures the archwire applies the right amount of pressure on a tooth. Once the bending limit is exceeded, a new archwire must be used.
Stainless steel wires are often used, but orthodontists have several choices to provide different stiffness levels and aesthetics. For example, a copper nickel-titanium wire has added resiliency. It also has a lower temperature transition and is more corrosion-resistant than traditional stainless steel wires.
Another option is a titanium-molybdenum alloy or TMA wire. This highly corrosion-resistant wire can be shaped and bent to place more or less pressure on the teeth. It is also available in a nickel-free version for patients with allergies to nickel.