How Braces Work

Northwest Portland, The Pearl District and Downtown Portland

Orthodontic braces employ advanced technology and complex tools in the service of a simple principle: using controlled force to selectively apply pressure to your teeth, gradually shifting them to a position that results in a functional bite and beautiful smile.

Portland, Oregon, orthodontist Dr. JD Miller of Portland Pearl Orthodontics offers a number of orthodontic treatments to correct each individual bite condition and teeth alignment problem, including Invisalign and the following braces options:

Although they differ in appearance, placement and teeth-straightening method, each of these types of braces uses similar components and a comparable approach to achieve the desired results.

Braces Bracket-ology

Each type of orthodontic braces mentioned above uses brackets, which are bonded to your teeth for the duration of your treatment. The brackets differ in size and style depending on the type of braces, and not all are affixed to the fronts of your teeth; lingual braces are placed subtly on the back sides of your teeth.

These brackets hold the archwires, which are used to direct the force that progressively straightens your teeth over time. In addition, many types of conventional braces and lingual braces feature ligatures, which are used to channel pressure in specific directions.

self-ligating braces, however, lack ligatures and instead use moveable brackets to contain and manage the archwires.

Archwires: The Gateway to a Great Smile

The archwires that run through the brackets are instrumental in correcting your specific condition. The archwires conform to the curvature of your upper and/or lower teeth and are the source of the continuous pressure that shift your teeth into place.

Archwires vary in size and may be exchanged through the course of your treatment, depending on the type of braces you have and the characteristics of your individual bite condition.

The type of braces also plays a role in how and how often adjustments are made. These adjustments, sometimes referred to as tightenings, allow your orthodontist to periodically alter the tension of the archwires based on the needs of your custom treatment plan. While conventional and lingual braces generally require adjustments every two to four weeks, self-ligating braces typically require less frequent office visits.

Treatment Time with Braces

The initial placement of your braces may require a few steps, including an extensive examination that includes X-rays, dental molds, teeth impressions and digital imaging. These items will provide the foundation for your treatment plan and the physical components of your braces.

Depending on which type of braces is used to correct your condition, you may visit the office about two weeks prior to the placement of your braces to have spacers applied. Spacers are used to spread the teeth slightly apart in order to allow sufficient space for the brackets and archwires.

After your spacers, if necessary, are placed and your brackets have been created, you will return to have the brackets bonded to your teeth and your archwires threaded through the brackets. Following this procedure, the frequency of your return visits to monitor your progress and make the necessary adjustments will be based on the type of braces and the needs of your condition.

Treatment duration varies by patient and depends on a number of individual factors, including the nature and extent of your specific condition. Most braces wearers achieve the desired results within a year to two years.

To learn more about braces and other orthodontic treatments, or to schedule your personal consultation with Portland, Oregon, orthodontist Dr. JD Miller, please contact the office of Portland Pearl Orthodontics.