Need To Know:
Adult Braces & Retainers

An AAHPO Medical Alert



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Lawrence V. Najarian, MD,President

Ted Chaglassian, MD, Past President

Arthur Kubikian, DDS
Vice President

Knarig Khatchadurian, PhD Corresponding Secretary

Tsoline Kojaoghlanian, MD
Recording Secretary

Garbis Baydar, MD

Edmund L. Gergerian, MD

Louiza Puskulian-Kubikian, DDS
Membership Committee

Khoren Nalbandian, RPh

Aram Cazazian, DDS
Vicken Pamoukian, MD
Terenig Terjanian, MD
Raffy Hovanessian, MD
Kim Arzoumanian, PhD  



Adults who have crooked teeth and/or a misaligned bite (an underbite or overbite), are receiving a variety of treatments that can help straighten your teeth, including dental braces and retainers. Many adults elect to have their teeth straightened for cosmetic or dental health reasons.

Perhaps you have questions about what to expect from these treatments. Fortunately, we have dentist Aram Cazazian, DDS and orthodontists Robert Kinoian, DDS , and Natalie A. Capan, DMD and to help sort it out.

How do braces work?

In their entirety, braces work by applying continuous pressure over a period of time to slowly move teeth in a specific direction. As the teeth move, the bone around the tooth changes shape as pressure is applied.

Braces are made up of the following components:

  • Brackets are the small squares that are bonded directly to the front of each tooth with a special dental bonding agent or are attached to orthodontic bands. Brackets act like handles, holding the arch wires that move the teeth. There are several types of brackets, including stainless steel and tooth-colored ceramic or plastic, which are often selected because they're less obvious.
  • Orthodontic bands are stainless steel materials that are cemented with dental bonding agents or cement to teeth. They wrap around each tooth to provide an anchor for the brackets. Some people have only brackets and no bands.
  • Spacers are separators that fit between teeth to create a small space prior to placement of orthodontic bands.
  • Archwires attach to the brackets, and are made of flexible, high tech metals which move the teeth gently over long periods of time. Some wires may be coated with a tooth-colored material.
  • Ties or ligatures are small rubber rings or fine wires that fasten the archwires to the brackets. They can be clear, metal or a rainbow of colors which can be changed at regular appointments.
  • A buccal tube on the band of the last tooth holds the end of the arch wire securely in place.
  • Springs and/or elastics may be placed on the archwires between brackets to push, pull, open, or close the spaces between teeth.
  • Elastics or rubber bands attach to hooks on brackets and are worn between the upper and lower teeth in various ways. They apply pressure to move the upper teeth against the lower teeth to achieve a perfect fit of individual teeth.

Are there other treatment options?

Newer "mini-braces," which are much smaller than traditional braces, may be an option for some. A common alternative to braces are clear aligners which are used to move teeth. A series of these are used, each moving the teeth a small amount. For those patients who are candidates, aligners are an excellent option for adults and some teens who do not want to show regular braces.

Some patients can benefit from removable braces (like retainers) or other types of tooth-moving appliances. Orthodontists have many options other than traditional braces. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have an orthodontic check-up by age 7. Although not many patients are treated at that young age, it is important to correct skeletal and growth problems earlier while the patient still has baby teeth. Orthodontists treat patients of all ages and no referral is needed for a consultation.

For more information about braces, please visit The American Association of Orthodontists website.


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