Braces 101

Orthodontic appliances, otherwise known as braces, are precise, carefully engineered tooth-moving devices made of tiny parts.

How Braces Work

Dr. Britton and Dr. Farnsworth guide the teeth into the correct alignment by carefully making adjustments to your braces and orthodontic wires. The orthodontic wires put pressure on the teeth. The pressure causes the bone to adjust to the new position of the tooth. Tooth movement takes time due to the changes in the bone and gums.

Types of Braces

  • Metal Braces: Metal braces are made of high-grade stainless steel and are small and comfortable.
  • Clear Ceramic Braces: Clear ceramic braces are the same shape as metal braces, except that they are translucent and blend into the teeth.


  • Orthodontic Wires: Orthodontic wires are what actually move the teeth. When tied into the brackets, they exert a gentle force to gradually move the teeth. Made of different types of metals and alloys, orthodontic wires tend to have a memory and want to retain their normal arched shape.
  • Bands: Small rings of metal that are cemented to the back teeth.
  • Bonding Material: Tooth-colored dental composite. This is what attaches the bracket to the tooth.
  • Brackets: Bonded directly onto each tooth with adhesive, the bracket holds the orthodontic wire in place.
  • Hooks: Small attachments placed on the brackets which are used to attach rubber bands.
  • Ligature Wire: Wires that help hold orthodontic wires to the brackets.
  • O-Rings: Tiny, clear or colored elastomeric rings that hold the orthodontic wire into the brackets.
  • Rubber Bands: Small elastic rubber bands used to exert gentle but constant pressure to move help move the teeth.
  • Wax: Orthodontic wax is used to protect gums and cheeks from bracket irritation.


The first few days after you get braces, your mouth will likely be sore. Your lips, cheeks and tongue might feel irritated as they toughen and become accustomed to the braces. Also, your teeth may feel slightly mobile for the first few days. Just remember, it takes time to adjust to braces!

Oral Hygiene

If you follow the doctors’ instructions about elastics and appliances, brush and floss regularly to ensure the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment and use the food guidelines on our Eating with Braces page, you’ll keep your treatment on track!

Britton Farnsworth Orthodontics

  • Alamo Heights Location - 110 Chichester Pl., Suite 100, San Antonio, TX 78209 Phone: (210) 824-2333 Fax: (210) 824-0680
  • Stone Oak Location - 1130 E. Sonterra Blvd., Suite 100, San Antonio, TX 78258 Phone: (210) 497-6688 Fax: (210) 545-1884

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