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How to "Tighten" orthodontic braces

(This is the most viewed page on this site.)  Quite often, people (usually adults) ask us how we "tighten" the braces.   Well we don't.  That is something that was done in the past, but is no longer necessary.  With all the exotic thermally activated wires we have at our disposal now, tightening the braces or wires is not necessary.  Thermal wire is dead soft when cold and gets stiffer at body temperature or above.  So, we place it in the brackets when it's cold and it gradually stiffens at mouth temperature producing progressively higher forces and the pressure felt by the patient.  We also progressively use larger or stiffer wires which may feel tighter for a couple of hours, but we don't physically or actively tighten them.  These are not your dad's or mother's kind of braces.

Below are examples of 'archwires', which reflect the shape of the dental 'arch'.  These are the thermal archwires, which are soft when placed in the braces and stiffen when they reach body temperature to begin the moving process.

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The pressure to close spaces or move a selected tooth on the braces is accomplished by adding power chain or stiffer wires.  The wires are held in place by small rubber or plastic colored ligatures which encircle the front of the braces.  These ligatures are the colors on the braces.  The are interchangeable and can be chosen by the patient.  The braces themselves are metallic, not colored.

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Above, you can see individual ligatures being placed and the resulting colors.  Below is an example of power chain being placed to close spaces.  It's like stretchy plastic and it gradually applies force to bring the teeth together.

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NO, it doesn't hurt...but it might get touchy for a couple of days...

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Dr. John M. Richards

Orthodontics for Children and Adults

South Fort Myers, Lehigh, Cape Coral

 

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