Better Performance and Less Pain
While the appearance of braces has improved, there are other enhancements that are not as well known. It used to be that braces' brackets and arch wires were always made of stainless steel, which is an inexpensive material that makes orthodontic treatment affordable. These brackets attach to arch wires, which move the teeth through tension. However, a drawback of stainless steel arch wires is they stretch and wear out, requiring the orthodontist to replace and tighten the wires more frequently.
More orthodontists have adopted the use of nickel- or copper-titanium for the arch wires that, as offered by Mary C. Trahar, DDS, PA, apply pressure to the brackets and move the teeth through natural body heat. These metal alloys are temperature-sensitive and tighten when exposed to the mouth's warm temperature. The pressure on the teeth using arch wires made of these metals is more moderate, which means less pain at the beginning of treatment and during adjustment. Further, these metals are more durable, meaning fewer trips to the orthodontist.