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How Teeth Shift with Braces

As sturdily in place as teeth seem to be, like most things, they will move when constant pressure is applied to them.

Orthodontic braces are based on this principle and are what allow your orthodontist to straighten out your teeth, create a smile that is more balanced, easier to clean and care for, and let you navigate the world with greater confidence.

How Metal Braces Work

In the case of traditional braces (sometimes known as “train tracks”), metal brackets are fastened to the front of the teeth, with a thin wire running through them. The wire is tightened in progressive increments every few weeks to put pressure on the teeth and move them into the desired position.

The tissues surrounding the teeth and holding them in place will also respond to the pressure by stretching and making space for the teeth to shift and then settle into place. The good news is, braces allow your orthodontist to straighten your teeth without bleeding or excessive pain. The bad news is, it’s still somewhat uncomfortable and having hardware in your mouth takes a little getting used to.

How Invisalign Works

Although Invisalign looks and functions much differently than traditional metal braces, they work according to the same principle of exerting pressure on the teeth to guide them into new positions.

Invisalign consists of hard acrylic aligners that are worn for most of the day (they can be removed for short periods to eat and drink), and every few weeks or so, the patient transitions to a new aligner as their teeth progressively shift. There may be a little soreness as the gums stretch and the teeth move, but there is no bleeding and no excessive pain. For many patients, what’s best of all about Invisalign is that there is none of the irritation to the inside of the mouth that metal braces can create by rubbing against the soft tissues.

What Your Orthodontist Recommends

Whether your orthodontist recommends metal braces or Invisalign for you will depend on a few factors. The most important is the type and degree of correction required. Metal braces are able to apply a greater amount of pressure so they are better suited for patients in need of major corrections to their bite and alignment. Invisalign is more appropriate for patients looking to close small gaps or even out slightly crooked teeth.

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