How do Braces Work to Fix Teeth?

Dental braces can be described as devices used to do an number of things to your smile. Braces:

  • Correct crowded teeth
  • Correct crooked teeth
  • Correct Misaligned jaw, known as malocclusion.

What are Fixed Braces?

Fixed braces include metal bands that are cemented to the molars and metal brackets that are directly bonded, or glued, to the enamel of front teeth. Fixed braces should not be removable by the patient. A stainless steel archwire is used to connect the bands and brackets in each one for the upper teeth and one for the lower teeth. It is the archwire that moves and straightens teeth. The patient is instructed to wear rubber bands at least 14 hours a day and to change them twice a day. Headgear can be used to keep the upper jaw back as the lower jaw grows to catch up.


There is usually some discomfort with the use of any orthodontic devices. The patient may feel pressure in the teeth as the underlying bone remodels. The cheeks or lips may be scratched by wires or other parts of the braces. In fixed braces, teeth pressure usually lasts 2-4 days after each adjustment. The patient is advised to eat soft foods and use pain relievers aspirin if needed. Soft wax can also be used temporarily to cover new brackets until the cheeks become accustomed to them.

Types of Braces

The type of braces that your orthodontist recommends will depend on factors, such as your age and whether you have an overbite in addition to having crooked teeth.
Classic braces that come to mind for most people are made of metal brackets that are glued individually to each of your teeth. An archwire puts pressure on your teeth and jawline and elastic O-rings connect the archwire to the brackets. The archwire is adjusted as your teeth slowly move into the desired place and the elastic bands are switched out at orthodontist appointments.

Other types of braces include:

  • Clear braces, which are less visible
  • lingual braces, which are placed completely behind your teeth
  • Invisible braces, also called aligner trays which can be taken off and placed back on throughout the day.
  • Retainers are aligner trays you’re given after completing treatment with traditional braces. They’re used to keep your teeth in their new place.

How Braces Move Teeth

Braces work by constantly putting pressure on your teeth, slowly encouraging them to move into the correct position. It’s the archwire that puts most of the pressure on your teeth, while many of the other parts (like the brackets) work to hold it in place.

Braces move your teeth by exerting constant pressure on them for extended periods of time. The shape of your jaw gradually adapts to conform to this pressure.

Underneath your gums is a membrane surrounded by your bones that roots your teeth to your jaw. This membrane controls the position of your teeth, and it responds to the pressure being put on your teeth by braces.

Getting braces doesn’t hurt and it takes between one to two hours for them to be installed. You may experience soreness for the first week you have braces as you adjust. 

Ultimately, the success rates of braces vary depending on your age when treatment begins and what your treatment goals are and if you are an adult how much do adult braces cost