The Fascinating Biomechanics of Orthodontic Appliances

Orthodontic appliances are an amazing resource to fix your smile

There is a fascinating field of scientific knowledge that is part of Physics and Biology, and its name is “Biomechanics.” You might have heard of it, but if you haven’t, it is the grounding soil of orthodontics.

In short, biomechanics refers to achieving the motion of biological tissue in humans for medical purposes. For example, in orthodontics, specialists must safely attain the displacement of teeth and jaws (bone tissue) by using mechanic appliances.

Orthodontic Braces and Clear Alignment Devices are an example of apparatuses that use controlled force to move teeth by applying Newton’s First Law:

“Every object continues in its state of rest or uniform motion unless an external force acts on it.”

Orthodontic braces work to produce forces by stressing wires or rubber bands in planned directions to move or rotate teeth. Also, other appliances use the natural force of the bite or muscular movements to fix jaw protrusions.

In this article, we enter into the fascinating world of the biomechanics of orthodontics and briefly review the core differences between orthodontic braces and functional appliances.

What Are the Different Types of Orthodontic Appliances?

An orthodontist might have at hand a considerable number of orthodontic apparatuses to treat different types and levels of malocclusions and to reposition the jaws (mandible or maxillary) to make the bite functional, and enhance hygiene and smile aesthetics.

We’ve divided orthodontic appliances into two main categories:

  • Functional Orthodontic Appliances and;
  • Orthodontic Braces or Clear Alignment Devices

Functional Orthodontic Appliances

In general terms, Functional Orthodontic Appliances shift teeth and produce jaw displacements to achieve symmetrical and functional repositioning. In other words, with these devices, an orthodontist takes advantage of muscular action at the bite, speaking, or swallowing.

The devices articulate in a manner that moves the jaw to improve the bite and chewing functions, anticipate crowded teeth, and reduce teeth wearing in patients between ages seven and thirteen, to prevent overbites and closed bites. Depending on the class, functional appliances can also divide into removable appliances and permanent devices.

Orthodontic Braces or Clear Alignment Devices

Orthodontic braces and clear alignment devices are the most common orthodontic appliances used to align teeth into a functional position, exerting controlled and gentle strain.

Orthodontic braces and aligners help correct misalignments (crooked teeth) in patients of all ages, including adult patients, helping them attain a straight and beautiful smile.

What Are the Different Types of Functional Appliances in Orthodontics?

As previously noted, several functional orthodontics appliances evolved over time with enhanced features that make them more efficient and comfortable. Some of the most popular is part of a Two-Phase Treatment.

Early Orthodontic Treatment

Many patients ask, “What is the best age to start orthodontic treatment?” The American Association of Orthodontists – AAO recommends the first orthodontic visit at age seven. Early orthodontic treatment is critical.

At this age, the first molars (adult teeth) sprout, making it possible for a specialist to evaluate the anterior-posterior and transverse dimensions of the maxillary and mandible arches.

In other words, an orthodontist can check the evolution of all sides of a kid’s mouth and anticipate its progression to determine one or more of the following circumstances:

  • Keep proper teeth spacing in cases in which baby teeth fall prematurely;
  • Guide jaw development to enhance correct facial symmetry;
  • Minimize the possibility of teeth extractions at early teen ages or during Phase-Two Interceptive Treatment and;
  • Reduce the discomfort and overall treatment span in the early teen years.

During early childhood, dental structures are manageable, and orthodontists can use various appliances that take advantage of natural movements to enhance orthodontic treatment outcomes during phase one and guide performance for phase two. Here we list some of the most used functional appliances:

Forsus Appliance

The Forsus named Forsus Fatigue Resistant Device promotes mandible growth in the early teens and eliminates excessive overbites, making the jaws fit and minimizing the need for jaw (orthognathic) surgery.

Herbst Appliance

A Herbst appliance uses metal bands and wires to fixate it to the upper and lower molars. In addition, the apparatus includes an attachment that resembles a shock absorber connecting both parts of the device, forcing a calculated movement at the bite that stimulates jaw displacement.

Palatal Expander

The palate expander applies moderate strain on the upper jaw to expand it. Next, an orthodontist instructs patients on how to adjust the device. Finally, a child using the device will achieve the desired expansion and must use the maxillary expansion appliance for several months to hold the expansion outcome avoiding regression.

What Are the Different Types of Orthodontic Braces?

Orthodontic braces evolved dramatically in the last decades. Here we include some of the most important features of each type of braces, from conventional metal braces to Invisalign – Clear Alignment Devices.

Traditional Metal Braces

Conventional braces made of high-grade stainless steel evolved to a generation that provides enhanced patient comfort. Metal brackets are reliable and efficient orthodontic appliances that help solve severe malocclusion cases and get your teeth in the correct position.

Clear Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces use a translucent material (composite) that visually differs from metal braces, making them an aesthetically sound option for patients that don’t want to compromise their appearance with conventional metal braces. In addition, clear Ceramic Brackets beautifully blend with your natural teeth color, making them less noticeable.

Self-Ligating Braces

Self-Ligating brackets are one of the best options, conjugating efficiency with comfort. In addition, these appliances don’t require bands to hold the wires and allow a more stable strain control, reducing treatment overall times.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces innovation comes from using the same orthodontic principles, but orthodontists cement the brackets in the rear part of teeth. Options like InBrace include paramount advantages in this category, with smaller bracket sizes and fewer nooks and crannies, allowing patients to practice better hygiene and full discretion.

Invisalign Clear Aligners

Invisalign revolutionized the form we see orthodontics. This orthodontic system uses different customized sets of transparent alignment trays, making them almost indistinguishable for the trained eye.

In addition to its aesthetic factor, Invisalign Clear Aligners also provide patients with a comfortable, hygienic, and reliable experience straightening teeth.

Changing the Way You See Orthodontics

At Perkins Orthodontics, we use the latest technology in appliances, devices, and peripherals, including fully customized, 3-D printed tooth-moving tools. Along with Dr. Evan Perkins, professional experience translates into a successful synergy for achieving beautiful smiles for orthodontic patients. Come in or schedule an appointment to start the journey to a confident, healthy and beautiful smile.

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