What are the Main Elements of Braces?

If you or your child are considering orthodontic treatment, you might be wondering about the various components that make up braces. At Norton Orthodontics, we believe in educating our patients about every aspect of their treatment, so let’s dive into the main elements of braces and how they work together to create a stunning smile.


Square-shaped attachments called brackets are bonded to the front of each tooth. The archwires that shift your teeth are held by them, serving as handles. Brackets can be made from stainless steel, ceramic, or even gold, depending on your preference and budget.

Traditional metal brackets are the most common type, known for their durability and effectiveness. Ceramic brackets, on the other hand, are made from a clear or tooth-colored material, making them less noticeable and a popular choice for adults or those seeking a more discreet option.


Archwires are thin, flexible wires that run through the brackets. Gentle pressure will then be applied to guide your teeth into the position they should be in. They are made from various materials, including stainless steel, nickel-titanium, and copper-nickel-titanium.

At the beginning of your treatment, your orthodontist will likely use a thin, round archwire to initiate tooth movement. As your teeth begin to shift, progressively thicker and more rectangular archwires will be used to fine-tune the alignment and bite.

The type of archwire used will depend on the stage of your treatment and the specific issues being addressed. Some archwires are heat-activated, meaning they are designed to be more active at body temperature, providing a constant, gentle force to move your teeth.

What are the Main Elements of Braces?


Elastics, also known as rubber bands, are small, stretchy rings that connect the upper and lower brackets. They come in many colors, allowing you to personalize your braces and have a little fun with your treatment.

The primary purpose of elastics is to apply additional force to move your teeth and correct your bite. Your orthodontist will instruct you on how to wear the elastics, which teeth to connect, and how often to change them. It’s crucial to follow these instructions closely to ensure the best possible results.


Ligatures are tiny rubber bands or thin wires that hold the archwire in place within the brackets. They come in various colors, giving you the opportunity to express your personality and style.

Traditional ligatures are small elastic bands that are stretched around each bracket to secure the archwire. Self-ligating braces, on the other hand, have built-in clips that hold the archwire, eliminating the need for separate ligatures. This type of braces can reduce friction and treatment time and make oral hygiene easier.

Buccal Tubes

Buccal tubes are small metal attachments bonded to the back molar teeth. They serve as anchors for the archwires and other orthodontic appliances, such as headgear or elastics.

These tubes are typically placed on the first and second molars, as these teeth have the largest roots and can withstand the forces applied during treatment. Buccal tubes play a crucial role in ensuring that the archwires and other components are securely attached and can effectively move the teeth.


Spacers, also known as separators, are small elastic rings placed between the back teeth before the placement of braces. They create a small space between the teeth, allowing the orthodontist to easily fit the metal bands around the molars.

Spacers are typically placed a week or two before your braces are applied and can cause some discomfort or pressure as they work to separate your teeth. This discomfort is usually short-lived and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.


Metal bands are thin, and circular rings are cemented around the back molar teeth. They provide a stable base for the buccal tubes and help to secure the archwires.

Before placing the bands, your orthodontist will carefully select the appropriate size for each tooth. The bands are then cemented in place using a special dental adhesive, ensuring a strong and durable bond.

What are the Main Elements of Braces?


Hooks are small metal attachments that are welded or built into the brackets or bands. They provide a place to attach elastics or other orthodontic appliances, such as springs or chains.

The position and number of hooks will depend on your specific treatment plan and the type of appliances being used. Hooks play a vital role in applying the necessary forces to move the teeth and correct your bite.

Putting It All Together

While braces may seem like a complex system, each component plays a specific role in creating a beautiful, healthy smile. The brackets, archwires, elastics, and other elements work together to apply gentle, continuous pressure to your teeth, gradually moving them into their ideal positions.

Throughout your treatment, your orthodontist will make adjustments to the braces, changing the archwires, elastics, and other components as needed to ensure that your teeth are moving according to plan. Regular check-ups are essential to monitor your progress and make any necessary modifications.

It’s important to remember that braces are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each patient’s treatment plan is unique and tailored to their specific needs and goals. At Elm Tree Orthodontics, we take the time to understand your individual concerns and develop a personalized approach to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted.

Taking Care of Your Braces

Proper oral hygiene is crucial when wearing braces. With all the various components in place, it can be easier for food particles and plaque to become trapped, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing after every meal, flossing daily, and using an interdental brush or water flosser can help keep your teeth and braces clean.

It’s also essential to be mindful of the foods you eat. Hard, sticky, or chewy foods can damage the brackets and wires, causing delays in your treatment. Dr. Norton will provide you with a list of foods to avoid and tips on how to enjoy a healthy, braces-friendly diet.

What are the Main Elements of Braces?

Start Your Journey to a Straighter Smile at Norton Orthodontics

Understanding the elements of braces and how they work together can help you feel more confident and informed about your orthodontic treatment. At Norton Orthodontics, we’re dedicated to guiding you through every step of your journey, from the initial consultation to the final reveal of your stunning new smile.

We are here to help with any questions about braces or if you would like to schedule a consultation. Our mission is to assist you in attaining the healthy smile that you are entitled to.