ABC’s Of Braces: All You Need To Know Before Starting Treatment

Dr. Glass July 31, 2019

Modern orthodontics has come along in leaps and bounds in recent years, with a number of innovative new technologies and treatment methods. Even so, traditional braces are still one of the best tools orthodontists have when it comes to creating straighter smiles for patients of all ages. The braces we offer today are nearly unrecognizable from earlier versions, and are designed to be more comfortable and affordable than ever before. As a durable, cost-effective solution for improving oral health and straightening smiles, it’s no wonder braces remain the top orthodontic treatment year after year!

Have you made the decision to move forward with braces treatment here at Glass Orthodontics? Congratulations! We’re excited to work with you on improving your oral health and achieving a beautifully aligned smile. We appreciate the trust you’ve placed in us, and want you to feel confident in the choice you’ve made to pursue orthodontic treatment. We know braces are a big investment, and you may have some questions or concerns before beginning your treatment, especially if you aren’t sure what to expect from the process.

To help you feel more comfortable with your orthodontic journey, we’ve put together a guide to help you learn everything you need to know before getting your braces put on. Let’s take a closer look at what braces are, how they work, and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

What are braces made of?

When you’re informed, you can be a more active participant in your own treatment plan, something we encourage! To understand how braces work, it helps to know more about what they’re composed of. Although there are several moving parts involved in aligning your teeth with braces, we’ll go over some of the most important ones below.


Brackets are the part of braces that we attach directly to your teeth. They’re typically made from a mix of stainless steel, nickel, ceramic, or other high-quality materials, so they’re very durable. Brackets have tiny hooks or doors over which the wire is threaded, and are secured by closing the door or by applying an elastic over the top of the wire.


Tooth glue is technically a form of the same composite bonding material that we use for tooth-colored fillings or sealants. This adhesive is used to attach the brackets to the teeth. In some cases, we may use metal bands on the back teeth in conjunction with the glue to give braces more leverage and stability.


This thin piece of metal runs from one bracket to another, and the changes in its shape and curvature are what prompt the teeth to move where we want them to go. With some patients, the wire will attach all the bottom or upper teeth together. For others, we may choose to cut the wire strategically if connecting only a few teeth makes more sense for the treatment plan.


Most patients will need elastics at some point in their treatment plan, but they’re especially important for patients in need of bite correction. The elastics are usually strung between an upper bracket hook and a lower bracket hook, pulling the upper teeth backwards to correct an overbite, or the lower teeth backwards to correct an underbite. We use rubber bands for many different situations, but they can be especially useful for bringing the upper and lower teeth together successfully.

Orthodontic bands

These stainless steel rings are cemented to the teeth using dental bonding agents to provide an anchor for braces and other orthodontic appliances. We won’t need to use them with every patient.

Dr. Glass working on a patient's teeth

How do braces work?

First, Dr. Glass will create a customized treatment plan that includes information on how each tooth needs to be moved in order to get it in the most optimal position. Using this information, he will place the brackets on your teeth. Once they’ve been attached, the wire will be inserted. Bends in the wire encourage specific and precise movements, with each bend providing a different type of pressure on different teeth. This process of tooth movement is called remodeling, and it involves minor changes in the bone that surrounds the roots of teeth.

When braces begin to put pressure on the tooth, cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts form around the tooth’s root. The pressure of the wire then works with these osteoblasts and osteoclasts to create a negative pressure on one side of the tooth. At this site, bone is removed. On the other side of the tooth, bone is reformed. This pressure and remodeling is what slowly moves each tooth into the desired position, straightening your smile over time!

This remodeling process can only occur if constant pressure is put on the teeth. Once your braces are removed, that pressure stops and your teeth will begin to settle into their new positions. But without that constant pressure of the braces, most teeth will eventually start drifting back to their old positions. This is why retainers are so important! We will provide you with one as soon as your braces come off, and it’s essential to wear it exactly as directed by Dr. Glass. Doing so will help keep your new smile in place and prevent any natural drifting from occurring. 

Caring for your braces

It can take a little practice and patience to learn how to properly care for your braces, but if you keep at it, you’ll be a pro in no time! We recommend brushing your teeth thoroughly at least two times each day with fluoride toothpaste, especially after eating and before bed. You should always pay careful attention to the areas between the brackets and gums, and carefully clean in between the wires and teeth. If you have trouble with this part, an interdental brush can be helpful in removing any hard-to-reach plaque and food debris.

Flossing should be done at least once per day, preferably before bedtime so that you can take your time. Some patients find it hard to floss as effectively as normal with braces, but it’s an important part of oral care. Using a floss threader or oral irrigator like a Waterpik can help remove food particles and plaque, along with regular dental floss. Just remember, supplemental tools should never take the place of a regular brushing and flossing routine!

Food restrictions

Food restrictions can be one of the most frustrating parts of braces, especially in the beginning, but they’re necessary to protect both your appliance and your teeth during treatment. As long as you’re wearing braces, you’ll need to avoid anything that’s too crunchy or too chewy, including things like chips, ice, gum, some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, and many types of candy.

The good news is, food restrictions are only temporary! Stick with it and keep your treatment on track. Your hard work and dedication will be more than worth it as soon as we remove your braces and you see your beautiful new smile for the first time.  

Dr. Glass in a consultation

Treatment times will vary from patient to patient

Because every smile is unique, and each patient will respond to treatment in their own way, there’s never a “one size fits all” answer when it comes to treatment times. Several factors come into play when considering this part of your treatment plan, including what the specific issue is, the severity of a case, and the level of compliance we expect. On average, however, the active stage of orthodontic treatment with braces tends to last anywhere from 6-24 months. This could be longer or shorter for you, depending on your specific case.

The smile you’ve always wanted is waiting for you at Glass Orthodontics

The first step in any orthodontic journey is an initial consultation. Glass Orthodontics is proud to offer this first visit for FREE for patients who have not yet had an orthodontic evaluation. If you’re in Daphne, Atmore, or Bay Minette, we’d love to meet you and share more about how braces could benefit your smile. Give us a call today and let’s get started!