Brackets are the metal or ceramic braces that are bonded directly to the teeth. The bonding process is simple and painless and the brackets are easily removed after the teeth have been aligned. The metal brackets have a small slot in the middle so that archwires can be placed and specially designed corners so that ligatures and elastics can be attached to help in the tooth aligning process.
The metal wires used during treatment are what actually straighten the teeth. The wires are changed or adjusted at regular intervals during treatment. Initially, a small, flexible wire is placed and gradually, as the teeth align, larger wires are used for fine tuning the tooth positions.
Elastic Ligature (O-Ring)
Sometimes elastic rings are placed over the braces. Traditionally, these were used to hold the wires in place inside the brackets, but now they are used to add some color to your braces for fun.
Small, flexible steel wires are sometimes tied around the brackets to hold the arch wires in place.
New, high-tech bracket manufacturing has lead to “self-ligating brackets”. Instead of using elastic or steel ligatures to hold the arch wire in place, the brackets have doors that the orthodontist can slide open and closed to allow for the arch wires to be changed or adjusted. Self-ligating brackets can allow for simpler, cleaner adjustments.
Many of the brackets on the larger teeth have small hooks built in. These hooks are used to allow elastics (rubber bands) to be held securely in place.
Elastics (sometimes called orthodontic rubber bands) are used for correcting bite relations. The archwires align the individual teeth, but the elastics correct the bite and improve the fit of the teeth. Elastics correct overbites, underbites, open bites, and many other bite problems.
Elastic chains are used to close spaces or hold teeth together to prevent space from opening while teeth are being moved.
Small, flexible coil springs are sometimes placed on the archwires between brackets to help create more space for aligning crowded teeth.
Headgear tubes are sometimes used on molar teeth in the back. These tubes not only hold headgear in place, they are sometimes used to connect additional appliances in place during treatment.
Molar bands are sometimes placed on back teeth. These bands are like rings that fit around the teeth and are secured in place with orthodontic cement. These bands are used for a variety of applications, including attaching elastics, holding headgear in place, attaching appliances such as holding arches or expanders, or securely attaching brackets to teeth with metal restorations. These bands are easily removed when they are no longer needed.