What are brackets?
Brackets are small, precision guide pieces glued directly to the teeth. An individually made arch of wire passes through a slot in each bracket and applies the necessary pressure to the teeth via the brackets, in all directions. Brackets come in many different shapes, sizes and materials. The decision on which kind of bracket is best for you depends on the treatment required, potential allergic reactions, and any aesthetic wishes you might have. Die Entscheidung welches Bracket bei Ihnen eingesetzt wird, hängt neben den therapeutischen Notwendigkeiten auch von Ihren Ansprüchen an die Bioverträglichkeit oder die Ästhetik ab.
Brackets are traditionally made of metal. Metal brackets have proved themselves over many decades; they are very robust, and have excellent mechanical properties. These brackets are normally made of a biocompatible medical stainless steel alloy.
Lingual brackets are also made of metal, but are attached behind the teeth so they aren’t visible. Lingual orthodontic treatment takes a lot more effort than normal fixed braces and so costs more, but has the advantage of looking much better.
Without a doubt, plastic or ceramic brackets are the better looking option among brackets attached to the front of the teeth, particularly when used with tooth-coloured arch wires. Ceramic brackets have the advantage of being very colour-stable – i.e. they don’t discolour over the course of the treatment, and their colour comes as close to the natural colour of your teeth as possible. They are, however, considerably more expensive than metal brackets. Plastic brackets are cheaper, but can be stained by foods such as curry or ketchup.
What are buccal tubes?
Buccal tubes are small tubes installed at the back of the mouth that the arch wires pass through. They’re usually directly glued onto the rearmost molar, or attached to a band around this tooth, and prevent the arch wires slipping out. However, other components, such as a facebow used with orthodontic headgear, can be attached to buccal tubes too.
Why do you need bands?
Bands are loops of metal that are glued around a tooth, seamlessly surrounding it. The buccal tubes are welded to these bands, giving the strongest possible bond and preventing the buccal tubes working loose. This is important, as the forces at the back of the mouth are often massive.
What do the arch wires do?
Arch wires are shaped to match the curve of the dental arch. They come in various strengths, sizes and materials, and are attached (ligated) into the slots on the brackets. Tension in the arch wires created by the teeth being misaligned is transmitted into the brackets, and so rotates, angles, shifts, or otherwise moves the tooth in a targeted way.
Fixing with mini-screws
A new, very effective and patient-friendly treatment method is moving the teeth with the aid of a fixed anchor point for traditional braces outside the teeth. To create this anchor point, a mini-screw (also called a mini-implant or temporary anchorage device) is screwed in between the roots of two neighbouring teeth for a short time (approx. 6 months). Mini-screws are suitable for both adults and children.
Can you eat whatever you want if you have fixed braces?
Basically, yes. However, chewing gum or chewy sweets can easily get stuck in the brackets and damage the braces. You also need to take care with tough foods, such as carrots, and things like cracking nuts with your teeth or chewing a pencil are definite no-nos.
For how long do you have to wear fixed braces?
This depends entirely on the starting situation and how difficult the treatment is, but as a basic guide you should expect to have fixed braces on for 1 to 2 years. Ask your orthodontist for more details.
Are there less noticeable braces?
Yes – for example, braces with tooth-coloured ceramic or plastic brackets, or lingual brackets attached behind your teeth.
Does gluing the brackets damage your teeth?
No. Before gluing the brackets in place, the teeth are roughened up – but only on the surface. Fluoride varnish is usually used to re-seal the teeth after the brackets have been removed.