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The Science Behind Orthodontics: How Teeth Move and Align

Braces and Invisalign® clear aligners straighten your teeth to improve how your smile looks and functions. You likely already know the benefits of these popular orthodontic treatments, but do you know how they work?

At Bucktown Wicker Park Dental in Chicago, Illinois, our highly skilled team provides helpful, in-depth answers to our patients’ questions, so you can be confident and educated about your treatment. 

We proudly offer Invisalign to our patients who require alignment procedures. Today we’ll look at the science behind orthodontics, and how we’re able to move and align your teeth.

How do teeth move?

Learning more about tooth anatomy can help to understand how orthodontics work. Below the crown, or visible portion of the tooth, gum tissue surrounds the root. The root of the tooth is anchored to the jawbone by a fibrous membrane known as the periodontal ligament

The periodontal ligament contains strong, flexible collagen fibers that act as a shock absorber for the teeth and gums. While it holds each tooth in place when you eat something tough or chewy, the ligament also allows teeth to move or reposition with consistent, applied pressure.

Why do teeth become crooked?

Crooked teeth often start from an early age. Early baby tooth loss and long-term pacifier use or thumb-sucking can cause children’s teeth to shift out of place. Genetics may also play a role. Here are some other common reasons for misaligned teeth:

Due to the flexible nature of the periodontal ligament, teeth can change position at any age. Trauma, illness, and poor oral hygiene can cause even the straightest teeth to shift out of position.

The science behind orthodontics

The goal of orthodontic treatment is moving teeth into proper position and alignment through the application of gentle, consistent pressure over time. 

While traditional fixed braces and Invisalign clear aligners may look quite different, they use the same underlying principles to give you that million-dollar smile.

During orthodontic treatment, your aligners guide your teeth toward their new positions. Your periodontal ligament allows your teeth to move in response to the pressure exerted by the dental appliance, and it initiates a process known as bone remodeling. 

Bone remodeling is what makes orthodontic alignment possible. As the aligner shifts your teeth, the periodontal ligaments stretch on one side and compress on the other. When your teeth reach their new position, new bone tissue fills the gap around the tooth socket. 

This process helps your teeth maintain proper alignment indefinitely. Wearing a retainer after your aligners come off gives your ligaments and bone tissue the support they need to rebuild and heal.

Get started today

Straight teeth aren’t only more attractive, they’re less prone to chipping or breaking, and easier to clean. You can learn more directly from the Invisalign professionals at Bucktown Wicker Park Dental, so call our office to make an appointment today.

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