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Parts of Braces

Understanding the Parts of Braces

Good alignment and function of the teeth is a key component of overall oral health. Braces not only create a straighter smile but also contribute to improving the longevity and function of a person’s bite. A bite that is aligned functions properly and prevents premature wear. Straight teeth are easier for children to keep clean, which prevents tooth decay and gum disease.

Dr. Ryan Redford understands that learning about the parts of braces and their function gives a greater understanding to patients who are considering this necessary step to great oral health.

Braces are made of a few different parts that function together. Brackets are bonded to the surface of teeth using a special adhesive. The brackets hold the archwire, which runs through them and connects all the teeth. Tiny hooks on the brackets allow for the attachment of elastics, which help bring the upper and lower teeth into the correct bite relationship.

Treatment Time

Each individual tooth root is surrounded by the jawbone, which gives them stability and strength. To straighten teeth, the wires, brackets, and bands use pressure to push and pull teeth gently into alignment. This constant pressure applied over time is what allows braces to work.

Treatment time will vary from person to person. The amount of tooth movement is one factor that goes into how long orthodontic treatment will take. A child with very little crowding or misalignment will require less time. A patient with more extensive misalignment and greater adjustments needed to the bite will require more time. Furthermore, some patient’s teeth respond more quickly to orthodontic force than others. Child braces plans and timetables are not one size fits all.

Friends with Braces Smile Together!

Different Types of Brackets

Brackets are the small metal or ceramic squares attached to teeth that hold the archwire in place. Brackets are adhered to the surface of the tooth with a special adhesive.

Brackets are normally made of stainless steel or ceramic. Stainless steel brackets have a metallic appearance, whereas ceramic brackets can be clear or tooth colored. Ceramic braces are a popular choice for teens and adults who want a more discreet appearance. In cases where a child wants to decorate their braces with colors, stainless steel brackets are typically used.

Other bracket materials that have been used in the past but less commonly nowadays include cobalt chromium, composite, gold, plastic, and titanium.

Self-ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces are a unique bracket design that uses a door mechanism to secure the archwire to brackets. These systems can be used in child, teen, or adult cases.

The open-and-close door mechanism allows the archwire to be changed more quickly during your office appointment. When considering kid’s braces, self-ligating braces are an excellent option since it is technologically advanced and produces great results.

Self-ligating braces, combined with the recent advent of superelastic shape memory wires can allow for orthodontic movement to occur over longer periods of time than previous generations of orthodontic wires. This means less frequent visits to the orthodontist’s office.

Clear Damon braces are one brand of self-ligating braces and GC brand is another popular choice that Burke & Redford Orthodontists use in their offices.

damon clear braces self ligating
Self-Ligating Damon Braces

Bracket Hooks

Most of the brackets in a braces setup will include what is referred to as a hook. These tiny hooks are a special part of the bracket. They allow the application of elastic bands, which apply additional pressure to teeth.

This pressure, which is applied in very specific directions, helps to correct problems with an adult, teen, or child’s bite. Orthodontists refer to bad bites as malocclusions. Bracket hooks are used in all types of braces including metal braces and ceramic braces.

There are a few types of bite problems that, with the help of elastics, bracket hooks assist in correcting.


Elastics are not to be confused with o-ties. O-ties are the colored elastic rings used to secure the archwire to each individual bracket in a “twin” braces system. Instead, elastics help to correct problems with a person’s bite, as well as spacing problems, by applying additional force in specific directions and are placed by the patient, not the orthodontist.

Elastics are attached to brackets via bracket hooks and are pulled down or over to the proper corresponding hook. This applies added force to teeth in the direction which will best correct issues with a person’s bite, alignment and, spacing of teeth. The orthodontist will instruct how to apply the elastics and for how many hours each day. Elastics are available in both latex and latex-free versions.

elastic band for child braces
Elastic Bands for Braces


Archwires are thusly named because top teeth comprise the upper arch and bottom teeth comprise the lower arch. It is the archwire that does most of the work during orthodontic treatment. Brackets alone would be unable to shift teeth into the proper position.

Archwires come in different sizes and colors. White-coated archwires reduce the visibility of braces when paired with ceramic or tooth-colored brackets. Throughout treatment, the archwire will be removed and exchanged for a new one several different times as teeth gradually straighten.

Palatal Expanders

Palatal expanders are an orthodontic device that widens the upper jaw. These devices can be helpful with children and teens that need additional space to fit all the permanent teeth. It is also used to fix discrepancies in width between the upper and lower jaws.

The best age for a child to be fitted with a palatal expander is between 7 and 12 years old. The growth plate that runs down the midline of the upper jaw is still pliable, making it easier for orthodontists to widen. This growth plate hardens (fuses) as children age and widening becomes more difficult past puberty.

palatal expander before and after
Palatal Expander Before and After

Aligner systems, specifically Invisalign and Invisalign teen, are quite different from braces and expanders, but are also able to move teeth. Invisalign and Invisalign teen both straighten teeth by using a set of clear tray aligners that are changed out for a new set every one to two weeks as the teeth gradually move in response to the applied pressure.

Invisalign Teen works in the same way as Invisalign but has a couple of features that were added with teens in mind. Eruption tabs are one of those features. Eruption tabs allow additional space for molars to erupt and help to “guide” the molars in proper alignment.

For teens concerned with the appearance of braces, invisible braces such as Invisalign may be an attractive choice.

Smartforce® attachments are a critical component of the Invisalign clear aligner system. The attachments are adhered to teeth with a material that is like tooth colored dental fillings. No drilling is needed, and the material is easily polished away when orthodontic treatment is completed.

invis smartforce attachment
Invisalign aligner with Smartforce® Attachments

Smartforce attachments provide an anchoring point by which the aligner may grab the tooth to move it in the proper direction. This gives increased control over the movement of the teeth, especially in complex cases which would not have previously been good candidates for clear aligner treatment.

Local patients searching online for “braces Temecula” when they or their child has an orthodontic issue will likely encounter our practice in the search results. Dr. Ryan Redford is experienced and knowledgeable in treating a wide variety of orthodontic problems. Call the office of Burke & Redford Orthodontists at (951) 699-8011 to schedule an appointment for your child or teen or fill out the Schedule a Consultation form on our website anytime.

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