The ultimate goal of orthodontics is to obtain a stable bite by realigning the teeth. To achieve this stable bite, as well as a beautiful smile, braces apply constant, gentle pressure to the teeth and guide them into place. Also, braces home care is important whether the patient chooses traditional braces, self-ligating braces, or clear/ceramic braces.
TRADITIONAL BRACES consist of four main parts: brackets, wires, ties (also known as ligatures), and elastics. In this style of braces, a stainless steel bracket is bonded to each tooth so that a wire can connect the teeth together, and thus provide the constant, gentle pressure needed to realign them. Before the wires are inserted into the brackets, they are shaped in the way that the orthodontist wants the teeth to be positioned, and when the wire is attached to the brackets, the wire slowly returns to its original shape, moving the teeth to their proper position. Ties are what secure the wire to each bracket and come in many colors, which can be chosen by the patient. The final main component of traditional braces is the elastic. Elastics can be used to correct an overbite or an underbite by attaching the upper teeth to the lower teeth and guiding the two jaws into their correct position on top of one another. Some preparatory work is necessary for this system of braces, such as the installment of "spacers" or "separators" to make room between molars for the back-most brackets.
SELF-LIGATING BRACES, popularized by a doctor named "Damon," are very similar to traditional braces, with the exception that they do not use the same "ties" or ligatures. To "ligate" means to "bind" or to "tie," and as the name suggests, self-ligating brackets bind
to themselves. This means that rather than using a traditional ligature, the brackets in this system snap to themselves over the wire and hold it in
place. The theory behind this technique is that by not using the traditional rubber ligatures, there is less resistance between the wire and the bracket, allowing the wire to move more freely. With the wire able to slide more easily, self-ligating braces can sometimes speed up the orthodontic process.
CLEAR OR CERAMIC BRACES, not to be confused with Invisalign®, are often less noticeable than metal braces, but still consist of wire and brackets. While the brackets are slightly bigger than those of other systems, they are made of a tooth-colored ceramic and are significantly less visible. In addition, rather than using rubber ligatures, the ceramic brackets used at McKenna Orthodontics are self-ligating, also making the braces more discreet. The wires in this system, however, are still metal and remain minimally perceptible.