How Do Braces Work? Types, Materials, and Time to Start Working

How Do Braces Work?

Braces are one of the best types of orthodontic treatment for straightening crooked teeth. However, very few know how they work.

This article covers how braces work in general, the different braces available, and how long they take to start working.

Key Takeaways

  • Braces are an orthodontic treatment that helps reposition crooked or crowded teeth.

  • There are many types of braces, including metal, ceramic, lingual, and clear.

  • Braces work by putting pressure on your teeth to move into the right position.

  • Braces take 6–36 months to work.

  • All braces consist either of metal, plastic, or elastic bands.

What Do Braces Do?

Braces are used to address various orthodontic issues and work by moving your teeth into the desired position in very gradual steps.

They can help pull crowded teeth away from each other, fix crossbites, and close any gaps that may have developed between your teeth.

How Do Braces Work?

Most braces work through similar methods. Metal, lingual, ceramic braces, and self-ligating braces mainly consist of arch wire and one of the various types of brackets and elastic or rubber bands.

When you wear braces, the archwire, which is bent to pull your teeth gently into the correct position, is held in place by metal brackets that are stuck to your teeth using a particular type of glue or adhesive.

On the other hand, clear aligners are formed from an impression of your teeth and look like thin mouth guards. When you wear braces of this type, they also gently force your teeth into the right position over time.

What Types of Braces Are There?

The various types of braces are as follows:

how do braces work

  • Metal braces, or traditional braces, are the most well-known and consist of an arch wire, metal brackets, and elastic bands. They are also the cheapest type of braces available and can work for almost any level of tooth misalignment.
  • Ceramic braces work similarly to metal braces, except that the brackets are tooth-colored and help reduce the noticeability of the devices.
  • Lingual braces are fitted on the inside of your teeth and not the outside. Although they are almost invisible, they are typically much more expensive and need an experienced orthodontist or dentist to install them.
  • Self-ligating braces are fitted with metal brackets instead of elastic bands. They work in the same way as traditional braces and can be cheaper than regular ones.
  • Clear aligners are transparent trays made of special plastics molded in various sizes that incrementally pull your teeth into the correct position. Invisalign is one of the most famous clear aligner brands, but Byte Braces are a better alternative.

How Do Braces Get Put On?

Orthodontic treatment will usually start with x-rays or other imaging such as facial photographs to determine whether or not you need to wear braces. Once you’ve chosen a treatment pathway, your braces will be customized according to the movement required for your teeth to reach the correct position.

When the time comes to install the braces, each bracket will be stuck to its corresponding tooth with a special adhesive.

How Do Braces Know Where to Move Teeth?

Arch wires are used to pull your teeth into the right position by exerting light pressure in that direction. Your treatment may consist of several visits to your family dentist to adjust the pressure of the arch wires.

Is It Better to Get Braces Younger or Older?

The best time to wear braces is when you are younger. The treatment of a younger patient may require fewer dentist visits and fewer materials, which makes it much cheaper than braces for adult patients.

Adult teeth may also be more difficult to reposition and require much more repositioning than younger teeth.

How Long Do Braces Take to Work?

Your treatment duration, or the amount of time you need to wear braces, depends on which treatment options you chose. Metal braces may take up to three years to pull teeth into the correct position.

However, if you need to adjust your jaw alignment, successful treatment may take much longer.

How Long Does It Take for Teeth to Move With Braces?

Your teeth are being pulled from the moment the braces are installed. The average length of treatment time before you notice a difference is typically around four weeks after you start treatment.

How Soon Do Braces Start Working?

As soon as you start to wear braces, they are in the process of pulling your teeth into the correct position.

What Is the Shortest Time for Braces?

Typically with how braces work, the shortest treatment time is a few months to a year. However, braces take more time to align severely crooked teeth. The average time for treatment may range from one up to two years or more if you have a major alignment problem [1].

Clear aligners may be a better option for people only requiring a minor adjustment or those looking for a much shorter treatment time. However, these aligners should not seem like a quick fix option and are only recommended for minor to moderate misaligned bites or teeth.

For more information about clear aligners, check out our Byte Aligners review and AlignerCo review.

Tips for New Braces Wearers

The following tips are good to keep in mind if you have just started to wear braces.

  • Maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential to how braces work and will prevent staining or the buildup of plaque on your teeth.
  • You should maintain proper eating habits and avoid sticky or hard food as per your orthodontist’s instructions when wearing braces.
  • You should attend every appointment as indicated in your treatment instructions to get your braces adjusted at the right time.

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Below are the most frequently asked questions about how braces work.

Do Braces Hurt?

How Do Braces Work on Crowded Teeth?

What Happens In the First Month of Braces?

Do Braces Make Teeth Weaker?


Braces and clear aligners all work to exert pressure on your teeth to move them into the correct position. This may take more or less time, depending on the severity of your misaligned bite, but by following the right treatment plan and maintaining your braces well, you can achieve a perfect smile.


  1. Moresca R. (2018). Orthodontic treatment time: can it be shortened?. Dental press journal of orthodontics, 23(6), 90–105.
  2. Talic N. F. (2011). Adverse effects of orthodontic treatment: A clinical perspective. The Saudi dental journal, 23(2), 55–59.

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