e Lif Smiling Liv

Live Life
April 2011
How Do Braces Work?
By Brandon Johnson, DDS, DHSc
I often get asked the following questions
pertaining to how braces work. Are you
going to tighten my braces today? Why
do I need a different wire? Why do I
need to come back sooner or later than
my last appointment? Why did my friend
only have their braces on for x amount
of months and mine are taking longer?
These are all good questions, and I will
try to explain how the process works in
Let me first say that every patient is
treated with their own custom treatment
plan based on the patient’s existing
conditions. No two patients are exactly
alike, which means that each patient’s
time in braces and treatment plan are
different. As an orthodontist, I look at
each patient’s mouth as a different
puzzle. I must determine the best way
to put the pieces together and this may
differ from one patient to the next.
Do you have a
teacher that
deserves an A+ ?
“Braces” typically consist of brackets,
wires, and various auxiliary appliances.
Brackets are used as a handle on the
tooth and hold the wire onto the tooth.
The wire is the “workhorse” that actually
moves the teeth into position. The
process of treatment from start to finish
typically goes through the following
stages: leveling and aligning,
coordinating arches, finishing and
detailing, and retention. The process of
progressing through the stages typically
takes, on average, 18-24 months,
depending on the severity of
After initial placement of the brackets, a
series of light to heavier wires are used
over several months to level and align
the teeth. Changing from a light wire to
a heavier wire is often associated with
“tightening” of braces and can cause a
few days of discomfort following the
appointment. Auxiliary appliances (ie.
elastics or springs) are typically added
later in treatment when the teeth have
been leveled. There is also an
appointment of repositioning some
brackets that takes place about 6-8
months after initial placement. The
reposition appointment is done to
enhance the bracket position on select
teeth after the wire has had some time
to straighten itself out.
My goal is for my patients to be out of
braces as soon as possible. Some
patients can finish sooner than the 18
months and some later than the 24
months. A shorter treatment time can be
achieved much easier by keeping teeth
super clean (clean teeth move easier
than dirty teeth), wearing elastics and
appliances as directed, and by taking
care of the brackets (broken brackets
can add additional months onto
treatment time).
Remember, we are a team working
together to give you an awesome smile!
Write us a short paragraph explaining how he or she has made a difference
in your life! We will have forms in our office for you to fill out and return.
Bring in your nominations during the month of April and we will select a
winner May 1. The winning teacher will receive a special surprise delivered
to their classroom and the whole class will get to enjoy a pizza party to
Post a picture of yourself
we want to see you
Every picture posted
in your Cornerstone
Orthodontics t-shirt out in
a public place! If you’re
showing off your braces
and t-shirt! Add your
pictures to our Facebook
earns one entry into a
drawing for 2 summer
long pool passes to the
April - May 2011
out at a sporting event,
hanging out around town
page at
Hays Aquatic Park! The
winner will be
with friends, or enjoying
your favorite restaurant,
announced June 1.
Helpful Tips
with Braces
When to Clean
How to Brush
How to Floss
Brush thoroughly after each
Use a fluoride toothpaste and a
We recommend flossing with a
time you have a meal or snack.
soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush.
platypus flosser. These flossers
If you can’t brush right away,
Brush around all the parts of
are designed to go underneath
be sure to at least rinse your
your braces and every surface
the wire and can be found
mouth with water. Carry a
of your teeth - fronts, sides, and
online at www.walgreens.com
travel toothbrush with you!
backs. We recommend angling
Other Suggestions
your toothbrush towards the
We also suggest using power
brackets to get underneath the
toothbrushes and waterpiks to
wire. Be sure to brush your
keep your teeth clean and
gums gently and thoroughly!
healthy! We have both for sale in
our office.
HAYS, KS 67601