Removable braces have a plastic base plate with various wire components attached to it. Each of these components either fit the plate to the teeth or gently put pressure on the teeth to move them.
These types of removable braces are made of hard plastic and have no wire components to it. A common brand name is Invisalign. The plastic is designed in such a way that each individual tooth has a certain amount of pressure on it that causes it to move. The patient is given a series of these aligners designed to be worn in stepwise sequence. Each aligner moves the teeth by a small amount.
The aligners are created using special digital software that plans the entire tooth movements. Then the full movement is broken down into smaller stages. A sequence of aligners is created to match these smaller movements. Initially, the aligners feel “tight” on the teeth but after a while, they fit very comfortably. When the next aligner in the sequence is worn, again it will feel “tight”. The process continues in this manner until the proper tooth movements have been achieved.
These types of braces only remain “active” as long as the aligner or removable brace is worn. The action stops when they are taken out to either eat or clean the teeth. For this reason, it is important they are worn all the time for as long as possible and only taken out to eat or clean.
Fixed braces have two main components: the brackets that are glued to your teeth and the main archwire that connects them.
Each bracket is precisely engineered and shaped to customise its movement for each tooth. They come in different sizes, shapes and materials which again allow for differing mechanics.
The archwire is a thin wire that threads through each bracket and connects a tooth to the wire. The archwire is a bi-product of NASA research and has perfect shape memory. For this reason, the wire then “pulls” the teeth into the correct alignment and proper position. These archwires also come in different types, sizes and colours. Again, the type of wire chosen is dependent upon the mechanics and aesthetics required.
The brackets need to be positioned in a precise and intricate manner by the orthodontist, as this can affect the dynamics of each movement of the teeth. When braces are first placed, the teeth are all irregular and crooked, and the wire hence follows the ins and outs and ups and downs of the tooth positions. However, as the teeth begin to correctly align you will notice the wire smooth out and become horizontal. This is an action of the wire memory.