How Do Braces Work? Philadelphia, PA

Braces are highly effective in repositioning crooked teeth. Orthodontists have used them for decades to restore smiles and enhance oral health, and thanks to advances in dental science, they work even better than they did years ago. But how exactly do they work? That’s what we’ll answer here.

Placing The Braces

We will start by making a mold of your teeth, which is used to make a cast. The cast allows us to determine how to move each tooth into the desired positions and where to place the brackets. To give one example, if we’re trying to tilt some of your teeth, we would position the brackets on those teeth differently than those placed on teeth that require different movements.

After attaching the brackets, we will insert the wire into them to apply pressure to the teeth. The wire is usually bent to provide different levels of pressure on different teeth so it won’t appear perfectly even across the arch. To give one example, a wire that is slightly bent can help move a tooth that protrudes too much and one that is too far back into alignment with each other. It’s common practice to use a bent wire to reposition a tooth that is twisted.


We use the term remodeling to describe the process of repositioning teeth. When the tooth experiences pressure, cells known as osteoblasts and osteoclasts form near its root. The wire, osteoblasts, and osteoclasts put negative pressure on one side of the tooth, removing bone. Bone is reformed on the opposite side of the tooth. By putting pressure on the tooth and bone, the tooth is gradually moved into the correct position.

However, if the teeth don’t receive constant pressure, the teeth won’t reposition properly. The tooth can move as bone is absorbed on one side and deposited on the other. When the braces are removed, the pressure goes away, and the tooth will settle into its new position.

During orthodontic treatment, you will also continue to have regular appointments with your general dentist so they can catch any cavities or symptoms of gum disease. Your dentist may also perform fluoride treatments, which protect the surfaces of your teeth from decay.

Wisdom Teeth

Once Dr. James decides that your orthodontic work is complete, they will remove the braces, and our team will thoroughly clean your teeth. We may take some additional x-rays and bite impressions to ensure your teeth have aligned the way they should and that no wisdom teeth have erupted during the treatment process. If any wisdom teeth have emerged, we may need to pull them, or they might push your newly straightened teeth out of position.


Repositioned teeth can revert to their original positions, and we often craft and prescribe retainers to keep teeth in their desired positions. A retainer is an orthodontic appliance that holds your teeth in their new positions following orthodontic treatment. Both fixed and removable retainers are available. A patient who receives a removable retainer will need to wear it all day for the first six months after treatment and then only at night. Patients must wear their retainers regularly or else their teeth will become crooked again.

For more information about our treatments, please contact our office at (215) 800-0015.