What is “Tightening Braces?”

Posted On: January 19, 2017

“Tightening your braces?”  

This is really an ‘old school’ term.  Braces don’t really get tightened anymore.  Nowadays, the wires mostly do all the work for us!  Braces are metal or ceramic appliances that are glued to the teeth. They are called brackets.  Each bracket has a prescription built into it based on which tooth it goes on and doctor preferences. The bracket has a slot that the wire fits into and has a door that closes over the wire to hold it in place.  This system is called a self-ligating system.  There are other types of brackets that do not have doors, so the wires have to be held into the slots by either an elastic or steel tie. This tie that is twisted is what most patients think of as “tightening.”  These brackets are called traditional-tie brackets.  These are probably the most common even today, but the self-ligating system is known for producing faster treatment times and are less painful.  When a wire is changed or a bracket is moved for better position, it gives the feeling of being tightened.  This ‘tight’ feeling or pressure will normally last for a few days.  Over-the-counter pain medicines and softer foods will help ease the discomfort.  Talk to your orthodontist if you are feeling anything out of the ordinary.  Hang in there….it will all be worth it in the end!   -Barb