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Why Braces Are Less Painful Today Than in the Past


Let’s face it, when you hear about braces or orthodontic treatment in general, thoughts of discomfort come to mind. In fact, common questions we still get from patients are “are you going to tighten my braces today?” and “is this going to hurt?” I am not going to deny that on occasion during orthodontic treatment that there may be some soreness but with the technological advances made over the past few decades, the discomfort is nothing like it was in the past. 

Do braces still hurt?

Contrary to popular belief, teeth move best if the forces on them are light and continuous as opposed to heavy and intermittent. In the past, it was difficult to control the force when moving teeth because the technology at the time was limited. The braces were big and bulky and the wires that moved the teeth were only made of stainless steel. This meant that the forces were heavy and intermittent. So what has changed that allows orthodontists to make sure that the forces are light and continuous?

Better wires

The most significant change that has occurred has been in the wires that are now available. The wires are “high tech”. They are a combination of metals including nickel, titanium and copper which makes them flexible and imparts low forces on teeth. To go one step further, there are “smart” wires available now that impart the ideal force on each particular tooth in the arch from the incisors at the front to the molars at the back. That is, different forces throughout the same wire to move the teeth safely and efficiently with less discomfort. 

The other technological advance that has improved the way teeth move is the advent of self-ligating braces. These braces have a little door or clip that secures the wire in place instead of an elastic that wraps around the corners of the braces. The significance of this is that there is less friction at each brace. The less friction there is, the more freely the tooth moves. Less friction also reduces the force needed to move the teeth which means there is less discomfort. 

Fewer Adjustments

The other benefit of these two advances is that the number of adjustments during the course of orthodontic treatment are fewer than in the past. Instead of adjustments monthly, we can see patients on average every 6-10 weeks. Let’s face it, the fewer appointments you need to make for yourself or your child, the better. I forgot to mention that the overall treatment times are generally less as well. Fewer appointments and faster treatment – it’s a win-win!

I guess you can say that when it comes to moving teeth, slow and steady wins the race!

Doctors Hill and Gross have the experience to help craft beautiful smiles for all manner of patients, both children and adults.


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