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The Science Behind Straight Teeth: How Orthodontics Works

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the treatment of misaligned teeth and bites. This is accomplished using a number of different tools and techniques, most commonly braces and aligners.

If you’re considering whether to pursue treatment for an orthodontic issue, it’s only natural to wonder how and why these methods work and to want to understand the science behind them. Despite the high levels of training, experience, and skill needed to perform these treatments, the science behind orthodontics can seem surprisingly simple.

Orthodontic Treatment Variations

The most common orthodontic treatment methods can be broadly divided into braces and clear aligners, but there can also be significant variation within these main two categories.

Clear aligners are made of transparent plastic and are placed snugly over the teeth. They can then be removed and reinserted to allow the patient to eat, brush, and floss without difficulty. It is possible to get aligners with ‘wings’ when necessary to address over- and underbites.

Braces are typically made of metal braces and wires and are fixed onto the teeth and later removed by an orthodontist. Variations such as ceramic braces, which more closely match the color of the teeth, and lingual braces, which attach to the back of the teeth are available. Lingual and clear braces work in largely the same way as traditional braces but aim to reduce their visual impact.

How Braces and Aligners Work

Despite significant differences in the materials used, their overall physical structure, and the experience of wearing them, both braces and aligners work according to the same broad principles.

While in the mouth, these orthodontic appliances apply a constant pressure to the teeth, causing them to gradually shift position over the course of the treatment. This is possible because the position of the teeth isn’t entirely fixed and the jaw bones and ligaments are able to adapt over time.

In order for the teeth to change position and to do so correctly, the correct amount of pressure must be applied and in the right direction on each tooth. 

As the teeth begin to change position, the pressure needed will change, which is why the exact shape of clear aligners change over time, and why braces require regular adjustments by an orthodontist.

Are Braces and Aligners Safe?

The idea of forcing your teeth to change position can sound daunting and potentially intimidating, but it is completely safe. Both research and the practical experience of millions of people have proven both braces and plastic aligners to be safe and effective in addressing orthodontic issues.

This is because the levels of pressure applied are always carefully calibrated to ensure they remain in a safe range, while still being enough to induce the needed changes.

It is, however, essential to ensure that you maintain a good oral hygiene routine during and after treatment, as failing to do so can not only interfere with the treatment but can also lead to further issues and complications.

Putting The Science into Practice

If you’re ready to put science into practice, Aloha Orthodontics in Las Vegas is here to help. We offer clear aligners and braces (including Gold Braces) and are experienced in providing treatment to children, teens, and adults. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.


Mon - Fri: 9:30am - 5:30pm
Sat - Sun: Closed


Mon - Fri: 9:30am - 5:30pm
Sat - Sun: Closed

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