How do braces work?

Brackets (the individual “brace” for each tooth) are in a sense “glued” to the teeth. This gives us a “handle” with which to “grab” onto the tooth so that we can apply proper forces. The wires are attached to the brackets. We usually use small colored elastics or “o-rings” to attach the wire to the brackets. We start with very thin, flexible wires that are preformed into an ideal archform (a broad “U” shape). When the wire is tied in or “engaged” in all of the brackets, it will immediately start trying to bend back into it’s original “U” shape. So imagine you have an almost ideal arch of teeth, except that one tooth is set back compared to the others. When the wire is inserted and engaged, the wire is mostly relaxed except in the area in which we forced it to go back to engage that tooth that is set back. In this area, the wire will be trying to “relax” forward, back into the original “U” shape. So it will start to apply a light force to the tooth which will have the effect of gently dragging that tooth forward into position. Same idea with teeth that are rotated, too high or low, etc. We start with extremely light, flexible wires, but as the teeth get into better and better alignment, we are able to use stronger, thicker, and stiffer wires to accomplish smaller and more precise movements. Finally, when all the teeth are aligned on very strong wires, we can use elastics (“rubber bands”) with the braces to align the bite. When both the teeth and the bite are aligned, we are finished and can remove the braces! Teeth will always want to go back to where they came from originally, which is why retainers are important after we remove the braces.


Do braces hurt?

Getting your braces put on does not hurt. We go through a process of “shampooing” and “conditioning” the teeth before we stick the brackets on, and then the brackets are “glued” to the teeth and the glue is set with a very bright blue light. There are no needles and no pain!

It is only after the teeth start to move (usually a few hours after braces are placed), that they will feel sore. This feeling is kinda how your muscles may feel after a really tough workout, especially if you haven’t worked out in a while.

Here are a few tips for getting dealing with this temporary soreness.

For the first few days after getting your braces on, try sticking to softer foods. Try eating more soups, eggs, applesauce and pastas.

Take some acetaminophen or ibuprofen – the same amount you would normally take for a headache. Try chewing some sugarfree gum. Often this will help get the blood flowing around your teeth and relieves the pressure.

When people first get braces, sometimes it can also take a few days for the lips and cheeks to get used to having something new rubbing against them. Some people get used to this faster than others. But if something is really bothering someone’s lip or cheek, they can use wax to help “round out”  or soften whatever is irritating the soft tissue.

If you do get a mouth sore from your braces, don’t touch them. The more you touch them, the more they will hurt!

Stay away from acidic drinks like lemonade and tomato juice. The acids in these drinks will often sting.

Sometimes you can get a mouth sore from biting the inside of your mouth while you are getting use to your braces. These sores typically heal fast so cheer up – you will get used to your braces in Shawnee.

Treat painful mouth sores with Anbesol or Orajel. This will numb the area and provide temporary relief.

Try rinsing your mouth with a weak and warm saltwater solution. This can ease irritation and speed the healing process.

Cheer up! Things will get better. The soreness means that your teeth are moving which is exactly what we want to happen. The inside of your mouth will toughen up and stop getting irritated by the braces.  Most people are only sore for a few days before they get used to having their braces on.

What are the pros and cons of Braces?


  • Predictable: less dependent upon patient cooperation, since the brackets and wires are always in and always working.
  • Good at even difficult tooth movements – for example, retrieving impacted teeth (teeth that are stuck in the gums/bone and are not erupting properly on their own).
  • Do not affect speech as much as Invisalign.
  • Can be customized with bracket shapes and color ties to accessorize outfits and allow expression of personality.
  • Cost effective – in most cases traditional metal brackets are the most economical way to achieve a great outcome.


  • Each adjustment can be a bit more uncomfortable/cause more soreness than each aligner change with Invisalign.
  • This soreness generally only lasts a few days.
  • Lips and cheeks typically need a bit more time to adjust to brackets and wires than they do to aligners.
  • Patients must modify or avoid hard/very sticky or chewy foods that can break brackets and bend wires.
  • Patients must learn new techniques for brushing and flossing to clean around and between brackets and wires.

Color Options

Bracket color and style are permanent. In other words, if you choose ceramic brackets, you will have ceramic brackets until the end of treatment. So if you really want gold brackets, you need to pick them at the beginning.
But even though your bracket style is locked in, there are a bunch of ways you can change the look of your braces when you come in for your adjustment.
Usually when folks think or adding color to their braces they are thinking of the color ties that hold the wire in the brackets. We change out these flexible ties at every appointment, so you can change your color depending on your mood, the time of year, your best friend’s colors, prom, or whatever! A lot of students get school colors to support their schools. Red and green are very popular at Christmas time! Usually you will be able to change your colors about once every month-month and a half.