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How Braces Work

Braces from 3M have come a long way in the last few decades. But their basic function is still the same: to move your teeth into alignment with gentle, steady pressure.

Appliances in your mouth:

Anything that is put into your mouth to move your teeth is referred to as an appliance; so if you hear your orthodontist use this term, don't worry. Braces have four basic working parts (appliances):*


The archwire is held to each bracket with a ligature, which can be either a tiny elastic or a twisted wire.


The archwire is tied to all of the brackets and creates force to move teeth into proper alignment.


Brackets are connected to the bands, or directly bonded on the teeth, and hold the archwire in place.

Metal Band

The band is the cemented ring of metal that wraps around the tooth

*Information provided by the American Association of Orthodontists.

How do braces work?**

Your braces are made individually to fit your mouth. The archwire slowly and steadily puts pressure on the brackets to guide your teeth into perfect alignment. It's a bit like a glacier. You can't see it, but over time the results show that it's moving. Luckily your teeth won't take as long to move. Studies show that on average patients wear braces for a range of 6 months to 2 years.

Sometimes, springs or rubber bands are used to exert more force in a specific direction. Occasionally you may need to wear headgear to keep certain teeth from moving.

During this journey, your teeth may actually loosen. Hang in there. This is on purpose. Your surrounding tissues and the bone structure underneath will grow to support the tooth in its new position.

Soon you will have the smile you'll probably dream about every time you're in the orthodontist chair.

**Information provided by

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