Every day our teeth rely on a substance that’s harder than iron or steel, their teeth. So, if teeth are harder than steel, they must also be harder than bone. If they are harder than bone, then why does your jaw, which is made of bone, not crumble under all that pressure?
Well, there’s a bit of tissue called the periodontal ligament or PDL, around your teeth under the gums. The PDL is a shock absorber, cushioning your jaw bone from all the chewing forces. However, what if your teeth have grown abnormally? Your teeth may look weird, but that’s not the only reason someone would want to fix it. Teeth misaligned can interfere with the way you talk and eat. So, how do we fix this problem? The answer is braces.
The Process behind Braces
When you get braces, you break your mouth, except it’s our bodies that do the breaking. The PDL has these cells called mechanoreceptors. When these cells detect a force on your teeth, that’s too big, like if you accidentally bite into your fork, they signal the brain to stop biting down before you hurt yourself. Braces tether your teeth, pulling them together or pushing them apart. Either way, they’re applying a steady force of pressure to your teeth. Then, when mechanoreceptors in the PDL sense this kind of smaller, but with a sustained force, they signal cells called osteoclasts to the area, which spew out acid and proteins to dissolve parts of your jawbone.
Then, the mechanoreceptors signal osteoblasts to come. Those cells deposit minerals that make bone. Osteoblasts rebuild the jawbone in a new shape that lets the PDL hold teeth in the new position. So, braces force your body to dissolve itself and then rebuild itself. This may sound pretty intense. However, your body is breaking down and rebuilding bone using osteoclasts and osteoblasts all the time, not just when you have braces.
Bone remodeling is just the way the body grows. The infant body replaces almost all of its original skeleton by the time it’s a year old. This bone remodeling process happens throughout our entire life. Orthodontists can manipulate the bone remodeling process not only to get straighter teeth but also to treat diseases like osteoporosis, which make your bones very brittle. By keeping overactive osteoclasts from dissolving the bone too much, or by boosting osteoblasts to produce more bone, drugs can prevent bones in those patients from breaking so easily.
People with severe bone injury have to rely on bone transplants, where they take bone from other parts of their body and move it to the damaged area, which is sometimes not even possible and is always painful. Research has been done from Paula Hammond’s group at MIT, which has created a new material that very slowly releases proteins.
These proteins cause osteoblasts to go right to the site where the injury happened and generate new bone. This is a significant discovery for people because it’s really hard to generate something that very slowly releases the protein. Most of the time, the protein comes out very rapidly and gets swept away in the body, so that it no longer has any effect.
People with braces need to check-in with their orthodontist regularly. This is due to their braces needing to be retightened so more teeth can move into place. Also, the more teeth you have then the longer the braces will be on. It normally takes months or a couple of years before you get your braces off. However, at some point, your braces will be off for good and you will be able to enjoy your new smile.
Lastly, the process of braces can be extremely frustrating, especially as a kid. Nobody wants to run around with braces. However, keep in mind the reason you got braces on in the first place. So, if you’re having a hard time accepting your braces, always remember that there is nothing to be ashamed of.
When you have braces, you’re taking the first step in doing something that is good for your mouth and overall appearance. So, take pride in your braces and show them off, and don’t be embarrassed by them. The majority of people will have braces at some point in their life, whether it’s as an adult or a child. It’s easy to write braces off as a form of medieval torture, but, amazingly, this so-called mouth torture works. The technology that makes it possible is not just in your braces; it’s in your bones. When deciding on your types of braces to get, you can always rely on Modern Orthodontists for expertise.
Therefore, trust the treatment that your orthodontist has given to you and be patient as your smile is coming in. When it’s all over, the results will be well worth when you have a lifetime of beautiful smiles that you can show to the world.