Understanding Orthodontics! The Science of Tooth Movement!

Periodontal ligaments consist of a group of fibers made of a protein called collagen. These fibers are what anchor and suspend the teeth in the bone. They join the root surfaces by inserting into a substance called cementum that is deposited by living cells. On the other side of the ligament, the fibers insert into the bone that is very much alive. The total ligament is like a hammock, allowing teeth some movement in their sockets, and through which they are able to respond to the stresses of biting.

How and why do teeth move during orthodontic treatment?

What allows orthodontics to move teeth is the careful manipulation of force that is used to guide the teeth into a new, improved position and better equilibrium. Light, constant forces applied to the teeth allow them to move in a predictable manner and direction. The movement is preceded by resorption of bone on the compression side of the periodontal ligament and deposition of new bone on the tension side. Orthodontic forces are applied to the teeth via small brackets attached to the crowns of the teeth, through which “archwires” pass. The arch wires apply controlled forces and cause the teeth to move in a predictable manner and direction so that they can carefully modulate the process of deposition and resorption of bone.

What Are the Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment?

Clearly, the benefits of orthodontic treatment are improved alignment of the teeth that can impact a person’s self-image. Other benefits include an enhanced and better functioning bite, improved long-term health as well as improved cosmetics, and social acceptance. It also provides easier maintenance of periodontal (gum) tissue health.

Why is it important to see an orthodontist?

Orthodontists are dental specialists who have taken three or more years of residencies in the study of growth and development of the face, jaws, and teeth, and have specialized in how to move teeth safely and effectively.

Why DIY (Do It Yourself) Braces can lead to BIG problems! Below are some risks of orthodontic treatment when a specialist is not in control!

  • Root resorption — a blunting of the ends of the roots of the teeth that make the teeth shorter. Shortening of the roots can result in tooth loss if not monitored by an orthodontist.
  • “De-calcification” — of the teeth surfaces, which is a loss of the mineral calcium due to an acid attack. To effectively eliminate this problem a dental specialist will watch this throughout treatment.