How Do Braces Work & How Do They Straighten Your Teeth

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For a lot of us, braces are a rite of passage. If you’ve ever wondered, how do braces work?, one answer is that it is a gradual and scientific process. While you may ask your orthodontist every visit how much longer you have to wear them, the fact is that braces work best if they apply pressure to your teeth slowly and gradually. If the process is hurried, it won’t be effective and you won’t be happy with the results. To understand more why that great smile takes some time, read below.

How Do Braces Work?

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Braces work by applying just the right amount of pressure to your teeth to move them into a new and straighter position. The technical term for this process is biomechanical response, or remodeling. While getting braces is considered a dental procedure, you usually see an orthodontist to have it done. 

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who concentrates in correcting irregularities in the teeth. We will discuss the specifics of this process below, but first we need to look at the various components that make up a set of braces.

Equipment Used in Braces

The first piece of equipment used in traditional braces is a bracket. This small, typically metal, deviceis bonded to the front of each of your teeth. It is built so that wires and bands can be attached to it. The archwire is a pre-shaped wire with an arch shape. The orthodontist will attach the wire to all the brackets on your teeth.

These wires are special in that they have a tendency to want to reshape into an arch, even after they have been manipulated to hook into the brackets. It’s their tendency to straighten that moves your teeth and eventually gives you that beautifully straight smile you’ve been dreaming about. The archwires come in varying thicknesses and shapes depending on your specific treatment plan and needs.

If you have an overbite or underbite, you may also need some jaw movement. For this, the orthodontist will use elastics. These are rubber bands that attach to your brackets to realign your jaw. They are removable, and your orthodontist will tell you when it is necessary to install them. Your orthodontist could use a few other items like springs, headgear, or spacers if needed.

The Science Behind “How Do Braces Work?”

Contrary to popular belief, our teeth are not growing directly from our jaw bones. If they were, it would be impossible to manipulate them into a new position. The roots of our teeth are surrounded by a membrane called the periodontal membrane. This membrane can grow and break down the cells in the roots to make it possible to move them to a new permanent position.

When a tooth is moved because of the constant and gentle pressure of the archwire, it is moving away from the periodontal membrane on one side and closer to it on the other. On the side where the tooth is moving away, bone growing cells called osteoblasts are produced, making this new position permanent. This process is called deposition. Deposition takes an average of three months.

On the other side of the tooth where the archwire is pushing the tooth into the periodontal membrane, the pressure breaks down bone in a process called osteoclasts. This breakdown makes room for the tooth in a process called resorption, which takes about three days. Every time your orthodontist adjusts your braces, this process takes place.

The Different Types of Braces

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While the science behind “how do braces work?” is true for all types of braces, there are options for you and your orthodontist to choose from. In most cases your orthodontist will choose the style that works best for your treatment plan. Many patients are in adolescence when braces are applied, but adults can get braces too, and your age may be a determining factor for the type you choose.


Traditional braces have the classic metal brackets with the metal archwire. The archwire is held on by tiny elastic o-rings. To make the brackets a little less visible, most orthodontists offer ceramic or clear brackets. Depending on the quality of the material, these brackets can yellow.


If you prefer your braces to be invisible, you can request lingual braces. They are made the same way as the traditional ones, only the brackets and archwire go behind your teeth. One thing to watch out for with these braces is that your tongue might accidentally brush up against the metal, causing some discomfort.


A new style of braces is calledaligner trays. These braces are clear plastic molds of your teeth that get changed out periodically in order to slowly re-align your smile. They fit on almost like a mouth guard, and this style is very appealing because they are clear. Since the patient can remove these braces, they are not recommended for younger children.

Things to Know Before You Get Braces

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Some teens look forward to the day when they get their braces. The newness is exciting. Others might dread it because they’ve heard stories about the soreness, or they are afraid others might tease them. It’s a privilege, and the beautiful smile you have when the orthodontist takes them off will be worth the time and any mild discomfort.


When the day comes for your braces to be installed, it may take anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour for your orthodontist and his team to finish the job. You won’t feel any pain or discomfort during the process, and typically there isn’t any soreness this first go around. The wiring in your mouth will take some getting used to, and your orthodontist will give you some wax to cover any parts of your braces that are making the inside of your mouth sore.

Follow Up and Care

You will probably see your orthodontist every eight to ten weeks for adjustments, and after these adjustments you may feel a little sore. This can easily be fixed with some ibuprofen or tylenol, and possibly a milkshake. A milkshake here and there won’t hurt, but it is very important that you take care of your teeth while wearing braces. This means no popcorn, hard candy, or chewing gum.

It’s advised that you brush after every meal and floss with special flossers specifically for braces. Some patients use water picks to help clean in and around the brackets.

You may miss some snack foods, and flossing and brushing with braces will take some getting used to, but typically you will only wear them for one to three years.


Retainers are plastic inserts you wear that help maintain your new smile. The braces, retainer, and all the visits in between is an investment, and the overall financial cost averages $5,000. Typically orthodontic offices will let you pay this in installments. Overall, it’s a small price to pay for that new beautiful smile.


Now that you know the answer to the question “how do braces work?”, you can appreciate all that goes into a beautiful smile. Using a series of slow and steady pressures, your teeth can be taken from crooked to straight, and the results will leave you full of confidence. Getting braces is a commitment, but it is one you will never regret.

What to Do When You Feel a Cold Coming On: A Guide

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What to do when you feel a cold coming on is probably one of the most common questions you could ask. Should you try to power through your day or take it easy? What should you eat, how can you relieve symptoms, and what natural remedies work? Read on to learn how you can best care for yourself and be on the mend as soon as possible.

Tips for What to Do When You Feel a Cold Coming On

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It’s Not Too Late to Save Yourself!

If you are searching for tips on what to do when you feel a cold coming on, chances are you are feeling under the weather. Maybe you have a scratchy throat and lower energy levels than usual. Yesterday you felt motivated to tackle all your deadlines at work, hit the gym, and hang out with friends or family. Now, you just want to stay in bed. The good news is that there are ways to stop a cold early and prevent a full-blown illness.

Relax and Get Some “Zs”

Getting rest is essential for a healthy immune system. Rest means getting enough sleep and also doing things to relax yourself. The mind-body connection is very important when it comes to fighting colds. Especially when you feel a cold coming, you should strive to get as much sleep as your body needs, which will vary according to the individual. Some people feel good after 4 or 5 hours, but most adults age 25-64 need a minimum of 7 to 9.

Give Yourself a Time-Out

When you start feeling sick, cancel some of your plans and spend more time at home. Maybe this means postponing a meeting with a friend or calling out from work. Don’t worry – doing so isn’t selfish or unreliable. It will help you feel better faster so that you can bring back your A-game for the people who need you.

Go on a Healthy, Non-Alcoholic Drinking Binge

Getting enough fluids is one of the biggest factors that determines the duration of your cold. If you are trying to squash a cold in its early stages, drink lots of clear fluids. Water, tea, or sports drinks will aid in your recovery. Try keeping a glass of some liquid near you at all times. Avoid alcohol, which will only dehydrate your system and make your cold symptoms worse.

How Do You Manage Cold Symptoms Naturally?

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Rest and Fluids Are the Best Medicine

While there are many over-the-counter remedies on the market, most doctors agree that rest and fluids are the most effective ways to fight a cold. These remedies are natural, inexpensive, and proven to help your immune system.

Don’t Use Medicine as an Alternative to Rest and Fluids

For people over 5 years of age, it is ok to take antihistamines, decongestants, and pain relievers when sick. However, do not take these medicines instead of resting. They might make you feel better, but you shouldn’t use them to power through normal activities. The rest is key to recovery. Instead, take medicine to relieve the symptoms of a cold in combination with rest–which will provide the real recovery.

Don’t Take Antibiotics

Antibiotics are effective for fighting bacterial infections, however the common cold is caused by a virus. Antibiotics will have no effect.

Try Having Tea with Honey

This is one home remedy that actually works. It will soothe your sore throat and provide hydration. However, do not give this drink to babies, as it can make them very sick.

Relieve Congestion

To fight the stuffy feeling you have and thin the mucus that your body needs to eliminate, sip warm beverages and eat soup. You can also try using a humidifier to add moisture to the air.

Relieve That Sore Throat

To make a sore throat feel better you can use a saltwater gargle with a solution of ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt per 8 ounces of water. You can also suck on ice chips.

Eat Nutritious Food That Is Easy to Digest

Chicken noodle soup and miso soup are ideal foods when you feel sick. They provide nutrition and calories without giving your digestive system a work-out. Miso soup also has healthy bacteria that will support your gut. While you are recovering, skip foods that are heavy or spicy.

What About Vitamin C, Echinacea, and Zinc?

We cannot guarantee that these common treatments will work because the scientific evidence is inconsistent. However, when taken in reasonable quantities they are unlikely to do any harm. If you review the evidence and believe that you might benefit from one or more of these remedies, go ahead and take them. Be careful with echinacea, as it may have negative interactions with certain drugs, and with zinc, as it can have some unwanted side effects.

What If You Could Just Skip the Cold Altogether?

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Prevention is the Best Cure: Maintain Healthy Eating Habits

One easy, natural way to manage cold symptoms is to prevent them in the first place. The stronger and healthy your body is, the less likely it will be to catch a cold if you are exposed to the virus. Eating nutritious food and avoiding a diet that is high in sugar, saturated fat, and processed foods is key. Focus on whole foods, fruits, vegetables, good sources of protein, and healthy grains.

Exercise Regularly

Another component of maintaining a healthy body year-round, not just during the cold season, is getting exercise. If you enjoy working out hard, you can train for a marathon, go to the gym for some lifting, or work with a personal trainer. However, if heavy exercise isn’t your thing, some yoga or walking several times a week is all you need to make a difference. You can even try adventurous, creative ways to exercise such as rock climbing or dance.

Manage Your Stress

Managing your stress isn’t something you should do only when you feel a cold coming. Among the negative effects stress has on your body is the way in which it depletes the cells in your immune system that fight viruses. Cortisol, a hormone your body releases in response to stress, will also compromise your immune system. It is important for you to find ways to relax naturally, such as spending time with friends, meditation, or activities that you enjoy.

Don’t Hang Out With Sick People

The common cold is caused by a virus. Viruses are spread person to person, so if you are in the same space as someone who is sick, you might get sick too. If you know your friend has a cold, it might be a good idea to wait until he or she is better before you make plans.

Limit Your Exposure to Healthy People When You are Sick

Inversely, when you are sick you can pass the virus on to others. If you know you have a cold, it is ok to cancel plans with people and stay home. It is ok to stay home from work. It is ok to skip the gym. Don’t succumb to the pressure many of us feel to honor all of our social and work commitments even when we feel sick. Doing so will only extend the duration of your cold and spread it to others.

Wash Your Hands Regularly

When you are exposed to common cold viruses, they often end up on your hands and can enter your body when you eat or touch your face. Washing your hands removes those viruses and reduces your likelihood of getting sick. Remember, you won’t have to ask yourself what to do when you feel a cold coming on if you don’t get sick in the first place.

When Should You See a Doctor for a Cold?

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Maybe you have tried rest, fluids, some natural remedies, and some medication to relieve the pain. If your symptoms don’t clear up within 5-7 days, if you have severe pain in your head or throat, run a high fever, or if you think you have the flu, you should see a doctor. Going to the doctor early might be a good idea in the case of pregnant women, small children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.

Flu Symptoms:

  • A sick feeling that is more intense and comes on faster than what you would experience if you had a common cold
  • Chills and body aches
  • A high fever


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Getting sick is no fun. Knowing what to do when you feel a cold coming on will help you reduce the duration of your illness. First and foremost, rest and fluids are the best solutions. Taking some mediation to ease your symptoms, eating healthy food, and managing your stress will also help you feel better. Hopefully, with some preventative measures, you won’t have to ask yourself what to do when you feel a cold coming on again in the near future.