FAQs for braces

Removable braces

What do you mean by removable braces?
‘Removable’ means that the brace isn’t in your mouth all the time. There are certain times when you don’t wear it – e.g. while eating or when playing sport. However, it is very important to wear the brace every day (and at night) for as long as possible. A removable brace normally consists of a sheet of plastic with other components inserted, such wires and expansion screws. This enables the teeth to be moved or the shape of the jaw to be changed. Removable braces are often used before treatment with fixed braces, and afterwards to stabilise the teeth and jaw in their final position.

How do removable braces work?
The wires and screws are designed so that the jaw is stretched and the teeth are shifted. Bite plates almost always act on just one half of the jaw; one-piece appliances for both halves (e.g. activators) alter the joints in the jaw and hence the patient’s bite. Their effectiveness depends on the growth of the patient, their biological changes, and their cooperation – i.e., how long they wear the braces for!
Plastics for braces
The most conspicuous part of a removable brace is the plastic plate, shaped to fit the patient’s mouth. The plastic used has to meet very high physical and medical standards –above all, it must be safe for the body. The same applies to any pigments or images set into the plastic, which make braces really appealing to children and help ensure they wear them for long enough. Ask your orthodontist about the many creative options that exist!
Why do you need the screws?
To enable the teeth to be moved as required, the plastic plate is divided into segments. At the joints, so-called expansion screws are installed. Turning the screws pushes the applicable segment in the required direction. This enables a single tooth or a specific group of teeth to be moved.
What do the wires do?
The wires used in removable braces essentially have two jobs: to hold and to shape. Wire components, such as arrow clasps or Adams clasps, ensure that the braces attach securely and tightly enough to the teeth – they hold the brace in the right place. Other wires, such as the labial bow or retrusion springs, help secure the teeth in the right place on the dental arch or move them to the correct position. Almost all of these wires have to be individually made by the orthodontist.
For how long should you wear your braces each day?
This depends on the treatment; the orthodontist will specify it to match what your child needs. Please stick strictly to the times you’re given, or the treatment will take longer than planned or could fail completely. Braces must almost always be worn overnight as well. If they aren’t worn as instructed, your health insurance provider may refuse to cover the full costs.
Do you have to take your braces out before you eat?
Yes, and put them in their case. Never wrap them in a handkerchief or leave them lying around – they could accidentally get thrown away or bent! The case is there to protect your braces.
What if my child has an allergy?
Your orthodontist will check your child’s allergy passport to see which allergies they have, and decide which materials may be unsuitable. There are alternatives available in case of allergies – e.g. titanium or ceramic brackets if your child has a reaction to nickel. Removable braces are made of clinically tested plastics, and can be made without pigments as well.
Why do the braces fall out at night?
Initially, your body thinks your braces are a foreign object, so it doesn’t accept them and it pushes them out in your sleep because they’re annoying. Because you get used to braces during the day, you need to be patient. After some time, your body will learn to tolerate them. If you still have problems even after a long time, please speak to your orthodontist.
Cleaning your braces
The easiest method is daily cleaning with a firm toothbrush and some toothpaste. You should carefully hold the braces by the plastic parts when you do this, and ensure you don’t bend the wires. Using cleaning tablets is not essential. How to remove stubborn deposits from your braces? Deposits like this are tartar build-up. Regular cleaning with a toothbrush is important to prevent this. If necessary, tartar can be removed by leaving the braces in diluted vinegar for a while.

We are here for you:

030-61 28 78 08

Dr. Thomas Schilling
Specialist in Orthodontics

Oranienstraße 6,
10997 Berlin Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain

Surgery hours:

Monday - Thursday: 
10:00 – 14:00 h
and 15:00 – 18:00 h

10:00 – 13:00 h
and 14:00 – 18:00 h

Appointments – advance booking only

Fixed braces

What do you mean by fixed braces?
‘Fixed’ means that the brace is permanently attached inside your mouth. This might use brackets, for example, or a so-called quad helix. The great benefit of fixed braces is that pressure can be applied to the teeth 24/7, meaning the treatment takes less time than with removable braces. This method is also very precise, it can be planned well, and the patient can’t forget to wear their braces. This can be a problem with removable braces, potentially reducing the effectiveness of the treatment.

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.
Metal brackets
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
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.
Clear brackets
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.