The literal translation of ‘orthodontics’ is ‘to straighten teeth’. Traditional fixed orthodontic braces can correct crooked teeth, those damaged through injury, or dental abnormalities such as malocclusions or overcrowding.
The device consists of a number of metal brackets and wires affixed to the front of each tooth, which then puts sustained pressure on the dentures, gradually moving them into the correct position for a natural or more comfortable bite.
The wires (arch wires) are a type of shape memory metal made from an alloy of titanium and nickel with copper or aluminium. While memory metal is quite malleable at room temperature, it really wants to retain its original shape. When warmed up by heat from the mouth (around 20”C/68”F higher than room temperature) the memory metal is activated. It then stiffens and takes on its original form, which presses against the teeth.
Beneath the gum tissue is a layer of collagen fibres known as the periodontal ligaments, which bind the tooth roots to the sockets of the alveolar bone in the jaw.
While a tooth under pressure will begin to move after about 72 hours, the bone will not be fully formed for up to three months. So even after a fixed brace has relocated the teeth they must remain supported to enable the bone to fill in.