How Do Braces Work?

Most people know someone who has worn braces but how exactly do they work to move teeth? Here is a quick guide to breaking the process down.

It has long been associated with being a child or teenager who may or may not be going through something of an ‘awkward’ phase. Braces. The word can conjure up images of headwear, elastics, and, of course, the braces themselves, which can vary based on the size of the brackets and even the brand of the brace. 

In recent years, however, braces have moved away from being something that is solely worn by children and is now an option for adults, who may have missed out on these appliances in childhood. 

Here, you will be walked through how do braces work by our team at Biltmore Avenue Family Dentistry, so you can see if they are worth looking into. Enjoy!

Who Is Suitable For Braces?

Starting at the beginning, who is suitable to wear braces?

In the last few years, there has been a shift in orthodontics towards the use of aligners, so why are fitted, stainless steel braces still around? Well, there are many orthodontic patients who have mo3e complex dental misalignment, which need apply pressure consistently to correct. Aligners need to be worn for 22 hours per day to work, whereas braces cannot be removed, so, more constant pressure equals more movement! 

If you aren’t sure if you would be suitable for braces, please come and see our team at Bafdentistry. We usually offer braces for adults if they have more complex cases of dental crowding, spacing, or misalignment, or if they have an overbite, underbite, or crossbite. An overbite is when your upper teeth may protrude out; an underbite is where your lower teeth are in front of your upper teeth, and a crossbite is where your teeth, well, cross over on the upper and lower jaw. There are even different type of braces that are suited to different types of misalignments, so our team will help you to choose the best one for you.

How Do They Work?

How do braces move your teeth?

First, we need a quick rundown of what is involved in teeth being misaligned. It starts with what is called a periodontal membrane, periodontal ligament, or periodontal fiber. This fiber or membrane is made up of lots of connective tissues, which resemble bungee cords and actually act in a similar way. As your adult teeth come through, these fibers (due to the early removal of baby teeth, genetics, and pressure from the environment) can be crooked or out of place, causing teeth to be misaligned, twisted, or just in the wrong place!

Dental braces put pressure on your teeth and, therefore, pull and push these cords as the teeth move. This pressure on your teeth is what can make braces hurt, but don’t worry! The fibers are extremely flexible and can be pulled and stretched without snapping or becoming damaged. This process is called bone remodeling, and when the braces apply pressure to the teeth, the ligament stretches on one side and compresses on the other, causing the bone to follow the ligament. Hence, with enough targeted pressure, the teeth in your mouth will move. Bone remodeling, for adults, can take up to two years, so patience is needed!

It is easier to undertake braces as a child, as these membranes and the roof of the mouth is more flexible to movement, meaning treatment is faster and the teeth and jaws are easier to manipulate into the correct position. However, braces work for adults using the exact same mechanism; it may just take a little longer.


If you were to look online at braces, you would undoubtedly see a few people who are also wearing elastic bands in their mouths. These are usually removable and attach to the brace via hooks on the brackets.

How do these help the teeth to move? Well, in many cases, elastics are used to assist in the correction of underbites, overbites, and misalignments in the upper and lower jaws. They can also be used to apply pressure to certain parts of the mouth, and there are even elastics in orthodontic care known as ‘finishing’ elastics, which are usually placed at the front of the mouth to finalize the position of teeth after the main movements with the braces have occurred.

Elastics come in different strengths and sizes and, should you need elastics for your realignment journey, our team at Biltmore Avenue will show you how and where to attach them.

Other Appliances

Now, we will touch on some of the other bits of kit we use in the journey for simplified tooth movement

When you come to see our team for an assessment, we may decide to use a power chain. This is a string of elastic rings, which we will place over the brackets on your teeth and which we usually use to close gaps. It may occur in your treatment that one of your teeth moves a bit further away from the others than you would like, so we use a power chain to pull it back and hold it in place until it stays put!

During your assessment, we may conclude that you are a suitable candidate for a temporary anchorage device or TAD. This is more common if there is poor spacing of the upper and lower teeth. TADs may seem scary, but they are simply a small, orthodontic tool that we will place into a prechosen part of your mouth. They are screwed into your jaw and are typically used to attach elastics to move your teeth into a location that could not be achieved with hooks on the brackets. This is not a painful process, and many people who have braces may only need to have a TAD fitted for 6-9 months, but your experience may be shorter. 

So, if you are eager to get the straighter, healthier-looking smile that you deserve, please call our team at Biltmore Avenue today!