The Science Behind Orthodontics: How Teeth Move and Align

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Are you considering orthodontic treatments, but you want to know how they actually work first? Read on to learn the exact science of orthodontics.

Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that focuses on correcting “bad bites” (malocclusions) and straightening crooked teeth. While often people think of orthodontic treatments such as braces and clear aligners as being purely cosmetic, they can actually have a huge impact on your oral health as well.

Having a proper bite and straight teeth can significantly reduce your risk of oral health problems such as cavities, gum disease, and excessive wear (erosion). Not to mention it can help with other issues such as headaches or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

If you’re getting ready to invest in an orthodontic treatment, you might be wondering how braces and clear aligners actually work to correct your various dental issues. In this blog, our team led by Farid Hanachi, DDS, PA, at Hanachi Orthodontics in Gastonia and Mooresville, North Carolina, takes a dive into the science of orthodontics.

What can orthodontic treatments correct?

When you get an orthodontic treatment such as braces or clear aligners, we can treat any of the following problems:

  • Wide gaps between your teeth
  • Teeth that are overlapping, crowded, crooked, or rotated
  • Front teeth that stick out over your bottom teeth (overbite)
  • Bottom teeth that stick out over your top teeth (underbite)

Getting orthodontic treatments can also help with chewing and speech function.

How does each orthodontic treatment work?

There are three main types of orthodontic treatments that we offer at Hanachi Orthodontics: braces, clear aligners, and retainers. Let’s take a closer look at each one.


Traditional metal braces are made up of brackets, bands, and wires. The bands are secured to your teeth and act as an anchor the entirety of the appliance. The brackets are then placed on the front of your teeth and the wire slides through them. Over time, the wire is tightened to encourage your teeth to move.

Braces are able to move your teeth by exerting constant pressure on them for long periods of time. Your teeth aren’t actually directly connected to your jawbone. Instead, there’s a layer of membrane that acts like a shock absorber between your teeth and your jaw bone. This membrane responds well to the pressure of braces which is why your teeth are able to change positions.

Clear aligners

Clear aligners are a great alternative to metal braces since they’re made up of a clear, hard plastic, making them much more discreet than traditional braces. When you have clear aligners, you wear a series of custom trays that are uniquely designed to move your teeth to their new desired position.

Clear aligners work very similarly to braces since the pressure from each tray slowly moves your teeth to their new positions.


After you’ve finished your orthodontic treatments, you’ll want to wear a retainer to “retain” your new smile. Right after your braces are taken off or you’ve finished your series of aligner trays, your teeth are going to want to move right back to their original positions.

Wearing a retainer helps your teeth (and that underlying layer of membrane) know to stay put even after the initial orthodontic treatment is complete.

To get started with effective orthodontic treatment, contact our team to set up an appointment at either of our offices in Gastonia or Mooresville, North Carolina. Simply call your nearest office location or book online.