Your new braces are putting you on the road to an awesome new smile! You’ve probably got some questions about orthodontic treatment. We are happy to answer all of them. The most important thing to remember is that orthodontic treatment is the way orthodontists straighten or move teeth to improve the appearance of the teeth and how they work. Orthodontics will help improve the long-term health of your teeth, gums and jaw because the treatment will slowly move your teeth and surrounding bone into the proper place for optimal alignment. 

Along with straightening your teeth, wearing braces means learning a new dental language so that you can communicate any concerns or issues to your orthodontist during your visits. Traditional metal or ceramic braces will include the following parts: 


man with braces smiling

These are temporary, small rubber bands that are used between the molars (the back teeth) to create space.


Brackets are the small metal squares that are attached to the front and side of the teeth. They are usually made of metal and are bonded directly to the enamel with a special adhesive. Brackets will provide a track for your archwire.   


The archwire is the wire that connects all of the brackets and bands together. It is responsible for the actual alignment of the teeth. The archwire comes in different sizes and strengths. Orthodontists are experts at bending the archwire causing your teeth to move and align to their optimum positions. Archwires are generally changed with each appointment.   


The thin metal rings that fit around the molars in the back of your mouth are called bands. They provide an attachment for the archwire and secure it, so your teeth are under the correct amount of pressure.  


There are two types of rubber bands or elastics that may be worn during braces:

  • Ligatures: the tiny elastic bands that fit around your brackets that hold the archwire in the slot on the bracket. They come in a variety of colors you can choose from, and they will always be part of your braces. Ligatures are changed during each of your appointments.  
  • Rubber Bands: used to apply pressure to the jaw to correct the alignment of your bite and reduce overbite/underbite.  The rubber bands are meant to be worn as directed by your orthodontist and directly correlate to the progress your teeth make while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Not wearing rubber bands will cause poor results and can lengthen the time you stay in your braces. 


The final stage of your orthodontic treatment plan is called retention. Your orthodontist will want to preserve all that you have achieved during your many months in braces. To maintain your beautiful new smile, your doctor will design and create a retainer that uniquely fits your teeth to hold them in place after your braces are removed. We say always wear your retainer! Retainers serve to keep teeth aligned as the facial structure grows and changes.

Our team at Virginia Orthodontic Partners believes in the importance of patient education and helping our patients make informed decisions about their orthodontic health. Contact us today to get started!