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How Do Braces Work, Anyway?

Welcome to Reese Orthodontics, your Charleston, SC premier Invisalign and Braces professional. We look forward to helping you obtain your best smile.

Braces are the most common orthodontic treatment. If you know you’re going to need braces, you may be wondering: how do braces really work, anyway?

Understanding your treatment can make it easier for you to manage. While braces may not be painful, they represent a significant investment in time and money and can cause some discomfort. When you or your child experiences discomfort, knowing how braces work can help you explain it and ask informed questions when you visit your orthodontist.

Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.

What are Braces Made Of?

Braces have three basic components: brackets, wires, and bands. These parts work together to straighten your smile and/or correct your bite. Each of these components contribute to your treatment differently. Here’s what you need to know:


Your orthodontist uses adhesive to firmly place a bracket on each of the teeth that will be affected by the braces. These brackets don’t apply any pressure on their own. Rather, they allow the wire to connect firmly to each tooth to maximize its ability to move them.

Brackets come in several types depending on the desired treatment. These include clear-colored (Ceramic) brackets for a subtler look, lingual braces that adhere to the back of your teeth rather than the front, and more options. Ask your orthodontist about your options during your consultation visit.


The wire (also called the “archwire”) connects your braces together. It is placed into each bracket to apply the pressure to your teeth that will eventually result in your straighter smile. The colors or o-ties that you see on the braces hold the wire into the bracket. These wires change throughout your treatment, becoming thicker and more forceful to continue accelerating changes in your teeth.


Elastic bands can be used in braces to apply more pressure or to target specific teeth in order to help improve your bite. Your orthodontist will evaluate your progress during each visit to determine if you need elastic bands added to your treatment.

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How Braces Straighten your Smile

The three components noted above work in tandem to straighten your smile by applying constant pressure to your teeth. Teeth are not actually connected to your jaw. Rather, teeth attach to a ligament called the periodontal ligament. These ligaments help move your teeth within your jaw to straighten your smile.

The periodontal ligament responds better to light pressure applied over a long period of time rather than forceful movement all at once. To create space in this ligament for teeth to slowly move, braces need to apply constant pressure for 1-2 years. This is the average amount of time that people wear their braces.

What to Expect from your Braces

Now that you know the basics of how braces work, what can you expect from the treatment process? Your braces treatment is broken up into several phases that you should be aware of before you begin. This schedule will allow you to understand how your treatment is progressing:


For your first appointment, your orthodontist will examine your mouth and possibly take X-rays to see the roots and joints. They may make a mold of your teeth and explain your treatment options to you. If braces are the right fit, you can proceed to the bonding phase.


The brackets go on first, then the wire. Depending on your needs, this may happen in your first visit or you may need to make a follow-up appointment to begin moving your braces. If you need rubber bands to focus on certain areas to solve a bite problem, they may be attached in the same appointment or in the future.


Over your treatment period, your braces will require follow-up adjustments by your orthodontist. These appointments can be scheduled ahead of time depending on your needs.

Adjustments are necessary to manage your treatment and track the progress of your teeth. The space your teeth require to move can only be maintained with constant pressure. This means that as they loosen and move, the pressure needs to change. This can only happen with new wires, bands, and adjustments.

Your orthodontist can go over this process with you and can explain your individual treatment needs during your consultation or any follow-up appointments.

Choose Reese Orthodontics!

If you are seeking an orthodontist in Charleston, SC for yourself or your family member, consider Reese Orthodontics. Our advanced treatment options include the latest technologies to create an effective and comfortable orthodontic experience. We also have multiple treatment options available, including traditional metal braces, clear ceramic braces, Invisalign clear aligners, and more.

Request an appointment today so that you or your child can get started on the treatment you need!

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Our expert Charleston County orthodontist and highly trained staff at Reese Orthodontics are eager to join you on the journey to a healthier and happier smile.
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