Monthly Archives: December 2013

How Do Braces Straighten My Teeth?

The process by which teeth move is complicated, and many books have been written on the subject. However, there are a few general principles that will help you understand what is happening or will happen in your mouth. Braces apply a very small, gentle push against crooked teeth which “wakes up” the cells in your jaw bones to make the roots around your crooked teeth start to straighten out.

pencil.chewingThere are two very important cells in your body that are mostly responsible for remodeling bone – an osteoclast and an osteoblast. The osteoclast is like a pac-man cell that eats bone. The osteoblast does the opposite – it builds bone. Together they work as a team to remodel the bone around the roots of your teeth. This is how an orthodontist moves your teeth from being crooked to being straight.

By the way, teeth don’t know what is pushing against them. The “pushing” can be done by braces, Invisalign®, chewing on a pen, sucking on your thumb, or biting your nails. Things like braces and Invisalign® tend to push the teeth in the direction we want them to go (straight) while things like thumb sucking or constantly chewing on a pen tend to make teeth more crooked.

Now that you know more about how teeth move, you can focus on doing those things that will make your teeth straight and beautiful and avoid doing the things that will make them crooked. Check our our link explaining more about orthodontic treatment and how teeth move.

Why do orthodontists sometimes remove healthy teeth before you get braces?

There are basically three ways an orthodontist can create the space needed to straighten crowded, crooked teeth.  The most common is to widen and expand the smile to create a little more room for big teeth in a small jaw.  Thankfully, this option will work for most patients. The second way is to “slenderize” the teeth by polishing them to make them a tiny bit smaller.  As long as the reduction is minimal, there are generally no long-term negative consequences to this approach – and for people with really big teeth it can be a great option.

dental.crowding

Occasionally, there is so much crowding that even a combination of widening and “slenderizing” just does not create enough room to fit in all the teeth with braces.  In these few cases, it is better to have fewer teeth that fit in your mouth then it is to try and jam all the teeth into a small jaw.  Trying to jam teeth into the bone when there isn’t enough space can cause periodontal disease over the long term. If some teeth are removed, the remaining teeth and gums end up being healthier and they look better too.  We can discuss all the available options with you to find out what is going to give you the smile you want and deserve. Remember, smiles last a lifetime.  Check out our website to learn more about orthodontic treatment.