Moving teeth is a relatively simple matter. Just push on a tooth with gentle force for a long time and the tooth will move. Kids that suck their thumbs will move their teeth forward with their thumbs.
We move teeth with brackets glued to teeth and wires between them. The trick to moving teeth orthodontically is to have the gentle forces continue for a long enough time.
Wires are where the forces come from. Orthodontic wires get bent into the crooked teeth and as they straighten, they pull the teeth straight also.
Relatively new super wires are able move teeth faster and more comfortably. They can be soft with cooler temperatures and stiffer with warmer temperatures.
The advantage of changing stiffness with temperature is that they can be cooled to bend them into the braces easily then they move the teeth more quickly as they warm up to body temperature.
These thermally sensitive orthodontic wires come in many different shapes:
simple round wires
braided round wires
combination wires with rectangular and round in others
wires with different strengths in different areas
Orthodontic wires also come in several different materials and a huge variety of thicknesses.
Which super wire to use is dependent on how crooked the teeth are and if teeth roots need to be moved or not. Extremely crooked teeth will usually need small diameter braided round wires. Less crooked teeth will use solid round wires.
If only the front teeth are twisted but the back teeth are not, then we consider using a wire with different stiffnesses in the front and the back.
Rectangular wires are used to move tooth roots. The slot in the orthodontic bracket is rectangular so a rectangular wire will be able to twist and torque the tooth roots in the proper directions.
These super orthodontic wires are made of an alloy of nickel, titanium, and copper. Other wires are made of nickel and titanium but heat treated differently to make different metal crystals with different flexibility properties.
When we get close to the end of treatment, we need to bend the wires. These wires are made of stainless steel or titanium alloys. The bends compensate for the brackets being slightly out of position since it is impossible to get them perfectly placed when first glued on.
Orthodontic wires are hard to clean and sometimes pokey but they are the work horses that get your teeth straight.
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