Sometimes it's quite obvious when a person needs dental braces. Their teeth (and bite pattern) will be clearly misaligned, meaning that comprehensive orthodontic treatment is the only way to correct their bite. But what about your own bite? Your specific orthodontic needs might not be quite so significant, but bite misalignment doesn't mean that all teeth must be repositioned. It's actually possible for a row of teeth to be perfectly straight—with a small, but noticeable exception. If you only have one or two teeth that are misaligned, will you need a full set of braces?
A partial bite misalignment can often be corrected with partial braces. These are traditional orthodontic braces that are attached to several teeth, as opposed to an entire dental arch (your upper or lower rows of teeth). How do they work?
Brackets and Archwires
The various components of whole-mouth dental braces work in harmony with each other, with the central archwire being fed through brackets attached to the outward surface of each tooth. These brackets allow the archwire to apply pressure to the teeth, gently coaxing them into the intended alignment. This principle will work even when only a couple of teeth have brackets attached to them?
Tension and Traction
There's strength in numbers when it comes to the brackets attached to teeth during orthodontic treatment. With partial braces, this strength must be found elsewhere. Partial braces involve the application of buccal tubes, which are small metal attachments bonded to the rear surfaces of teeth, allowing the necessary tension and traction for an archwire to be effective. The brackets at the front of the teeth are connected to the buccal tubes via the archwire, allowing localized pressure to be applied to the teeth to facilitate repositioning. This archwire is then periodically tightened by your orthodontist until realignment has been achieved.
The Look of Braces
Partial braces look just like traditional braces, although they will only be attached to several teeth, as opposed to an entire row of teeth. The name is apt since these braces look exactly like a partial section of a set of braces. If the aesthetics concern you (and you don't much like the physical appearance of braces) ask your orthodontist about color options for your brackets and archwire. These can be tooth-colored, so your partial braces won't be too obvious.
When only a partial realignment is needed, partial braces can be an ideal solution. Although you might be tempted to avoid treatment altogether, even minor misalignment of one or two teeth can cause more significant problems as you get older.