The Mechanics Behind Braces: How They Move Teeth


Curious about how braces work to align your teeth?

It’s a journey filled with transformations that can also seem complex.

This blog post simplifies the world of orthodontics for you. We’ll explain:

  • How braces work
  • The role of orthodontists
  • The changes your teeth undergo

Let’s unravel the mystery of braces together!

What are braces?

Braces are dental appliances commonly used to correct tooth alignment and bite issues.

Made up of several components, including brackets, archwires, and elastics, braces apply gentle pressure to the teeth over time, guiding them into proper positions.

Types of braces

Several types of braces are available today, ranging from traditional metal braces to more discreet clear aligners.

The choice of braces typically depends on the orthodontic issue, the patient’s lifestyle, and personal preferences.

The science behind how braces move teeth

The role of the orthodontist

Orthodontists are specialists in diagnosing, preventing, and correcting malpositioned teeth and jaws.

By utilizing braces, orthodontists can control the direction of tooth movement, correcting orthodontic problems like overcrowding, gaps, overbite, underbite, and more.

The role of braces in tooth movement

Braces move teeth by exploiting the natural ability of the body to remodel bone. When braces apply pressure to a tooth, it forms a pressure area on one side and a tension area on the other. The body responds to this by breaking down bone in the pressure area and building new bone in the tension area, allowing the tooth to shift position.

There are three primary phases in tooth movement with braces:

  • Initial phase: Alignment and leveling
  • Second phase: Correcting the bite
  • Final phase: Detailing and finishing

The timeline for tooth movement with braces

Initial phase: alignment and leveling

During this phase, which typically lasts several months, the braces align the teeth and level the arches, correcting any visible misalignments.

Second phase: correcting the bite

Following alignment, the braces now work to correct the bite. This involves ensuring the upper and lower teeth fit together correctly when the jaws are closed.

Final phase: detailing and finishing

The final phase involves making fine adjustments to ensure the teeth are in their optimal positions. At the end of this phase, the braces are typically ready to be removed.

Living with braces

Maintenance and adjustments

Living with braces requires maintaining good oral hygiene and going for regular adjustments to ensure the braces continue to move the teeth effectively.

Possible discomfort and how to manage it

While braces can cause discomfort, there are several ways to manage it.

These include:

  • Using orthodontic wax to cover sharp parts of the braces
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Eating soft foods


Does it hurt when braces move your teeth?

While you might experience discomfort, the pain is manageable and subsides after a few days.

How often do braces need to be adjusted?

Braces typically need to be adjusted every 6-8 weeks, but it can vary depending on the individual’s needs and treatment plan.

Can I see progress while wearing braces?

Yes, you can usually start noticing changes in your teeth’s position within a few months of wearing braces.

What’s the average time one needs to wear braces?

The average treatment duration is about two years, but it can be shorter or longer depending on the severity of the orthodontic problem.

Do braces only move teeth, or do they change the shape of the face too?

While braces primarily move teeth, they can subtly change the shape of the face, particularly if worn during the growth phase.


Moving teeth with braces is a fascinating combination of science and art.

By applying constant, gentle pressure, braces guide your teeth into ideal positions, transforming your smile and improving your oral health.

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