What Are Braces?

A: Braces are devices that move teeth. Small metal brackets— either white or traditional metal, move teeth into the proper position and corrects bites and smiles.

Have you noticed your teeth have begun to shift out of place or perhaps you have issues with bite alignment? Have you wished your teeth were a bit straighter and have wondered if braces are right for you?

Whether you have thought about braces or not, they are indeed an option to treat alignment and bite issues. Read this quick comprehensive overview of braces including some non-traditional alternatives and see if it’s right for you.

What Are Braces?

Braces, as Dr. Vela mentioned are devices for straightening teeth and correcting bite issues. This treatment is part of a specialized field of dentistry called orthodontics. This specialization developed over time to address and correct issues with teeth positioning and jaw alignment issues. Although everyone’s mouth varies, many different bite problems end up needing orthodontic intervention.

The first type of issue we commonly see is referred to as malocclusion, or bite misalignment.  When people think of bite issues—they often imagine an overbite or underbite. However, there are many different forms of malocclusion besides those.

Issues such as teeth overcrowding, spacing and gap issues, crooked teeth, and more. Sadly, these problems can cause many people to become very self-conscious about themselves. From a health standpoint, these problems can also affect speaking, eating, and social interaction. So, it’s easy to see how it can cause physical trauma as well as emotional.

But, there’s hope—while there are many kinds of bite issues, there’s always a viable solution to these bite issues.

Braces were created out of necessity—to help patients reign in their teeth and jaw into proper positioning. The good news is that braces have quite a high success rate and a high patient satisfaction rating.

Types of Braces

Today, braces come in many different variations and there’s more options than ever before. Many patients are left questioning which braces are right for them. There is no blanket answer as the right solution can vary on everything from cost to appearance. Looking over the different options of braces will help your narrow down which is best for you.

Traditional (Metal)

These are the braces that most people envision when they hear the word “braces.” This variety shifts the alignment of your teeth with metal brackets attached to the outside of your teeth. The teeth are guided by an archwire that slowly alters the bite alignment to proper positioning. Some braces will use elastic bands to support the movement of the teeth and then some have a custom-made clip instead of bands. Those are referred to as self-ligating braces.

If you’re allergic to nickel, that doesn’t rule out metal braces, there are alternate metals such as titanium or gold-plated stainless steel. Always be sure to discuss any allergies you may have with your dentist before going through with the procedure.

  • Pros: There can be fun color options for the elastic bands which appeal to kids. They work fast and are the least expensive option in most cases.
  • Cons: They do not blend in well, so they will be very noticeable. Calcifications can grow around the brackets. Restricts what foods you can eat to some extent.


Ceramic braces are almost identical in form and function to metal braces with one major exception—the brackets are clear or tooth-colored.  This gives the same efficiency as metal braces but is less conspicuous. This is a popular choice with adults that find the metal look of traditional braces off-putting.

  • Pros: Less conspicuous than traditional metal braces but function just as well.
  • Cons: Staining is a high possibility given their light color. Cost more than regular metal options, and calcifications are still a possibility.


Dentists call the inner surface of your teeth the “lingual” surface. These forms of braces are mounted on the back of your teeth against your tongue. Lingual braces are also made of metal just like traditional options.

  • Pros: Not visible to most people
  • Cons: Very tough to clean well and keep clean. Cost more than traditional braces and can hurt your teeth or cut your tongue during the initial period. Not a viable option for extreme malocclusions. Normal adjustments are more frequent and complex than traditional.

Clear Aligners (Invisalign)

Clear aligners aren’t technically braces in the sense that they don’t use brackets or ties at all. Overall they are the least invasive of “braces.” However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t achieve great results given time and the right circumstances.

These are clear aligners that you graduate up from a starter to the final aligner. Each one fits tighter and tighter gently moving your teeth into the correct position over time. Each aligner is worn for about 1-2 weeks before moving to the next one.

  • Pros: Nearly invisible, easy to remove, no calcifications, materials used are safe and BPA free. Use safe and patented plastic (free of BPAs and carcinogens)
  • Cons: Increased price point, the process usually takes longer, the potential to lose the aligners, and be charged expensive replacement fees.


How Do Braces Straighten Teeth?

Not all braces use the same methodology to straighten your teeth, all, however, work towards the same result. The style of braces you decide on is what will determine how your teeth are straightened. It will also determine how often you will need adjustments during the treatment plan. Although some of the components can be exchanged for personal needs, the basic mechanics of braces are identical. Here’s how the components in braces work to straighten your teeth and align your bite.


Brackets are cemented with dental cement to each tooth. They can be metal, ceramic, or tooth-colored and attach to the front or back of the tooth. Traditional bands that go around the tooth are put on the back molars in many cases. However, self-ligating braces don’t use bands.

Wires, Tubes, and Ties

Archwires attach to the brackets and guide the teeth as they shift. The wire applies steady pressure to your jawline and teeth, altering their position. Over time, that wire is adjusted to continue the gradual realignment of your teeth and jaw.

The orthodontist will fasten archwire to your brackets using rubber or metal ties that are changed out periodically. There is a small tube that holds the wire in place positioned at the last tooth on either side. Sometimes in extreme cases springs, rubber bands, or elastics may be needed.


All the pieces work in unison to move your teeth into proper alignment and shift your bite to the correct position. As teeth move, they’re guided by the archwire and the brackets help pull the teeth along. After each adjustment, the teeth and jaw continue to be moved on this path until positioned properly.

Clear Aligners (like Invisalign)

These models work differently than the other option since they offer a gentler adjustment. The clear aligners are removable, so a new aligner is used every two weeks. This is in place of using archwire and getting it tightened on regular visits is handled a little differently. Unlike other forms of braces, a clear aligner is removable and provides a gentler adjustment. Instead of regular visits to tighten the archwire and ligatures, a new aligner is used every two weeks to continue moving the teeth.

Get Your Smile Straight With Vela

If you’ve been wanting to get your smile straightened out, braces might be a great treatment for you. Sure, they can be a bit inconvenient, but the good news is, you get used to them and the payoff is huge. To get the best results contact Vela Dental and schedule a free consultation. We can determine which solution is best for you and your lifestyle.


Activate Your Free Consultation