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Understanding Orthodontic Treatment: Types of Braces Wires

Dec 29, 2022Braces

Taking a Closer Look at Braces: The Arch Wire

teenager smiling with braces in a park

When you start your orthodontic treatment plan, you’ll have a lot on your mind (like how long treatment will take or the best way to smile with braces). One thing you’ll probably want to find out about is what orthodontic materials are being used to transform your smile.

Today where’s doing to be breaking down one of the big pieces of your care: the orthodontic wire called your “arch wires.” This article from Great Smiles PD + Orthodontics will help you understand what arch wires do, how they help tooth movement, and what kind of materials the metal band can be made from.

Let’s take a peek into orthodontic wires and how braces work!

Learning All About the Arch Wire

Wearing braces means having all kinds of things attached to your teeth, like bands, brackets, and ligatures. The arch wire is one of the critical components of orthodontic care.

Arch wires are what make your teeth move. This is the rectangular or round wire that connects all your top teeth and your bottom teeth along the brackets (those pieces of metal attached cemented to the tooth).

During your treatment, the arch wires cause gentle forces that move teeth toward their final position. At your different checkups, your orthodontist will change your arch wire to adjust the tension on your teeth. This is because the necessary force to adjust your smile changes depending on the phase of treatment.

Parts of Braces: From Brackets to Bands

The orthodontic archwire couldn’t do its job without a little help from these different parts! Take a look at some different types of equipment that you’ll encounter during treatment.

child brushing braces in bathroom mirror
  • Bracket: Brackets are small rectangles that are cemented to each tooth, and they’re either made of metal or ceramic. The arch wire runs through each bracket, attaching through clips (self-ligating braces) or rubber bands.
  • Molar Band: Orthodontic bands are thin metal rings that fit around the molars (your back teeth). Your orthodontist may use these to treat bigger bite problems that brackets can’t handle. A buccal tube on each band can let your doctor attach other tools to it – like lip bumpers, face bows, and the arch wire. Before you begin treatment, your orthodontist places separators between molars to create a small gap with gentle force. Separators prepare the molars for braces!
  • Ligature: These are colorful (or clear), tiny rubber bands that hold archwires to the brackets. Each patient can match their elastic bands to outfits and kick their beautiful smile up a notch during treatment!
  • Rubber Band: Larger elastic bands attach to the top and bottom jaw to fix overbites and underbites, applying pressure to the jaws to move them into their proper positions.

Wire Types: Stainless Steel Alloy, Beta-Titanium, & Nickel-Titanium

Arch wires come in three types of metals: stainless steel, beta-titanium, and nickel-titanium alloys.

Your orthodontist will switch between the different alloys based on what stage of treatment you are in. They’ll also change how thick the wire is as well – after all, a thin wire applies less pressure than a thick one! These mechanical properties help shape your smile better while you wear braces.

Stainless Steel Wires

With their strength, adjustability, and hygienic makeup, stainless steel archwires are a great alloy to help maintain orthodontic progress. However, they lack elasticity which means they’re not ideal for the first steps of your ortho journey.

Beta-Titanium Wires

Beta-titanium wires merge the perfect balance of strength and elasticity, making them a popular choice for orthodontists mid-treatment. More flexible than stainless steel but stronger than nickel-titanium, they’ll get you one step closer to an inspiring smile.

Nickel-Titanium Alloy

Nickel and titanium (Ni-Ti) archwires are the superhero of orthodontics, as they have a “shape memory effect” that allows them to spring back to their original form after they are shaped for your mouth. This makes Ni-Ti wires perfect for putting steady pressure on teeth during early treatment stages without compromising on flexibility.

Positive Communication

Choose a children’s dental practice near you where you and your child feel comfortable. You want good, effective communication and education. Look for a pediatric dentist who takes the time to explain procedures in a child-friendly manner, addressing any concerns or questions your child may have. 

Children dentistry and orthodontics

Final Thoughts on Finding a Pediatric Dentist Near You

Friendly staff and dentists who are skilled in interacting with children can help alleviate anxiety and create a positive dental experience for you and your child. Have a conversation with the staff when you call or ask to have a quick conversation with one of the pediatric dentists before you make an appointment.

Or, if you go and something does not fit about the experience– the service, the location near you, the atmosphere– then switch to a different dentist for your kids.

By prioritizing your child’s comfort, communication, and comprehensive care, you can ensure that they receive the best possible dental experience and lay the foundation for a lifetime of oral health.