To put it simply, traditional comprehensive orthodontics involves using metal arch-wires, or “braces” (that are placed onto brackets that have been glued to each individual tooth), in order to gradually move the teeth into a more ideal position. Unlike Invisalign, traditional ortho uses metal archwires instead of clear plastic aligners. And, unlike 6-month braces, traditional comprehensive ortho is often a long-term treatment, with the goal of making the alignment of the teeth, as well as the bite, as ideal as possible.
The three components of traditional, comprehensive orthodontics, or traditional “braces.”
- Metal archwire: this is what moves the teeth. The wire is placed onto the brackets that are on the teeth. The length, thickness, and position of the wire are what determines how each tooth will move. At each follow-up appointment, the archwires are replaced with a new one with different characteristics, in order to gradually move the tooth more and more.
- The Brackets: brackets are cemented onto the surface of each tooth. The function of the brackets is to serve as a connection point for the archwire. The brackets follow the force imparted by the archwires and push or pull the teeth into the ideal position.
- Elastic “rubber bands”: Elastics are what maintain the connection between archwire and brackets. Each bracket is attached to the archwire via elastics, which come in an assortment of different colors.
- Additional Components: there are also hooks, steel ties, coils, and headgear.
Traditional comprehensive orthodontics is still the gold standard for achieving ideal results in situations involving severe malocclusion or misalignment of the teeth.
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