How Braces Move Teeth in Different Directions

Orthodontists are the experts who know exactly where to move your teeth with braces, but it's actually the pressure created by the arc of wire that does the work. This wire is placed along the irregular trajectory of misaligned teeth, and it attempts to return to its original shape, pushing the teeth with it. The major components of braces work together to exert constant pressure on your teeth, gradually moving them into their proper positions. In some cases, springs or elastic bands are used to apply extra force in a specific direction. Orthodontic appliances move teeth by applying constant pressure over a period of time.

The shape of the jaw gradually adapts to this pressure. During adjustment visits, the orthodontist may insert a different shape, size, or material of wires into the brackets, or re-tie elastics such as shoelaces to allow certain movements in the teeth. Bends in the arches of wire can be used to move certain teeth in different directions. Gaps can be closed with “electric chains”, while helical springs can be used to create spaces around narrow teeth for remodeling.

Elastic bands may also be used to align the bite. Tooth movement is a natural response to the pressure applied by braces over time. However, broken brackets can disrupt this balance and cause undesirable movements or delay tooth movement. Hard foods can also exert enough pressure to break the bond between the brace and tooth. Braces are most commonly used during adolescence, but more and more adults are getting corrective dental braces later in life. This image shows the colors that can be added to straps and the difference with self-ligating devices.

These are before and after images of using a propulsion system and braces to accelerate the movement of first and second molars forward. Elastics are normally placed from one or more of the upper straps to one or more of the lower straps.