Orthodontic brackets (also known as orthodontic braces) are devices used in orthodontics to align and straighten teeth and help to position them with regard to a person’s bite, while also working to improve dental health.
Orthodontic Tooth Movement
As pressure is applied to the periodontal ligament, which holds the teeth in place, the body will automatically create room in the desired new location while also filling in the space where the teeth used to be located. This process loosens the tooth and then new bone grows in to support the tooth in its new position. It is called bone remodeling.If too much force is applied at once or in a short period of time, tooth loss is possible. This is the reason for the need for small changes to be made every 30 or so days for the duration of treatment. To be sure, teeth movement by way of orthodontic treatment must be constantly monitored and adjusted. While every patient is different, movement of 1 mm per month is usually possible with orthodontic care.
There was a time that teenagers and adults alike trembled at the thought of having to get braces. The minute a dentist recommended seeing an orthodontist, the words “metal mouth”, “tin teeth” and other unattractive adjectives ran through people‘s heads. Boy, have times changed. Today, with the new technologies available, people of all ages are choosing orthodontic treatment to achieve a beautiful, healthy smile.
|Archaeologists discovered many mummified remains in and around Egypt, with what researchers believe could have been an early attempt to close gaps in teeth. These remains have a cord made from animal intestines (known as catgut) wrapped or run along the teeth in a very similar style to how modern orthodontists run orthodontic wire along the teeth in an effort to close off gaps.|
The term “braces” wasn‘t coined until the early 1900s. However, dentists were working diligently to create and improve the methods and techniques used to align and straighten teeth. The world of orthodontics saw considerable advances that eventually led to the invention of modern day braces.
|In the early 20th century, Edward Angle founded the first school and college of orthodontics, organized the American Society of Orthodontia in 1901 which became the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) in the 1930s, and founded the first orthodontic journal in 1907.|
The first official use of the word “braces” was in the early 1900s. While the name may still be the same as the technique used in modern dentistry, the actual technique and devices used in orthodontics advanced considerably during the 20th century.
|The braces of the early 1900s were dramatically different than the braces people think about today. Dentists would individually wrap bands (materials varied) around each tooth. The bands would then be connected by a wire. The wire could be adjusted to apply pressure to the teeth in hopes of slowly moving them into proper alignment.|
Gold was preferred by many dentists because the material is extremely flexible when heated. The gold could be shaped and molded to wrap around the teeth.
Patients who couldn‘t afford to purchase the gold used for the braces would often have to use the dentist‘s second choice of material; silver. Silver was significantly cheaper than gold, but not as flexible. However, it was preferred over the alternative materials such as ivory and wood, which were extremely difficult to work.
|Orthodontic techniques stayed relatively the same until the 1970s when numerous breakthrough techniques were discovered. The biggest breakthrough technique was the use of a dental adhesive to hold dental brackets to the teeth. A dental adhesive was placed on the surface of the teeth where the brackets would be “stuck” directly to the teeth. This technique replaced the need for dentists to wrap individual wire around each tooth to keep the brackets in place. In addition to the dental adhesive, tie wires and elastic ligatures were often used to keep the braces tight and in place.|
The use of stainless steel, instead of gold or silver, was a part of the improved dental techniques used for braces in the 1970s. Stainless steel was becoming popular in the 1960s, but it wasn‘t until the mid-1970s that dentists started to embrace the material into their dental practice. Stainless steel was a relief to both patients and dentists; patients were happy because it reduced the cost of braces, while dentists liked it because it was extremely flexible and easy to manipulate.
Types of braces
Traditional Metal Braces
Traditional metal wired braces are stainless steel and are sometimes used in combination with titanium. Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces. Traditional braces consist of a small bracket that is glued to the front of each tooth and the molars are adjusted with a band that encircles the tooth. Elastic (rubber band) ties hold the wire onto the metal brackets. One of advantages of metal braces is that colored elastomeric modules give kids a chance to express themselves.
“Clear” braces serve as a cosmetic alternative to traditional metal braces by blending in more with the natural colour of the teeth or having a less conspicuous or hidden appearance. Typically, these brackets are made of ceramic or plastic materials and function in a similar manner to traditional metal brackets. Clear elastic ties and white metal ties are available to be used with these clear braces to help keep the appliances less conspicuous.
Lingual braces are custom made fixed braces bonded to the back of the teeth making them invisible to other people. In lingual braces the brackets are cemented onto the backside of the teeth making them invisible while in standard braces the brackets are cemented onto the front side of the teeth. Hence, lingual braces are a cosmetic alternative to those who do not wish the braces to be visible.
This type of bracket contains a clip that opens and closes. When closed, the clip holds the archwire in place. Self ligating braces do not require the need of elastic ties. Instead, the wire goes through the bracket. These braces can also be clear.