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Have you ever wondered how your orthodontist moves your teeth? For some years now, the wire we use for our fixed braces have given us help. Wires used to straighten teeth during orthodontic treatment are often made out of a metal alloy called Nitinol. The “Niti” bit stands for Nickel Titanium and the “nol” bit stands for Naval Ordinance Laboratories. The alloy was originally used to make items for space probes (!) because the material allowed probes to be folded up into small storage areas and could immediately return to their original shape when released into space.

The great thing about wires made from Nitinol is that they have been formed into a smooth curve and when distorted, they return to their original curved shape. It is this fundamental principle that allows an orthodontist to align peoples’ teeth using these wires. The problem is, if these wires are bent repeatedly across short sections, they can become distorted and lose their ‘shape memory’. This can happen when people fiddle with their brace say by, pressing a finger or nail into a section of wire running from one tooth to the next. Fiddling around with a wire can lead to the wire becoming very wavy in shape and result in the tooth straightening process not being as effective.

There are a few things you can do to help avoid the ‘wavy wire’ scenario and keep your wires actively moving your teeth. If you find some food debris lodged behind a wire or bracket, either use your inter dental brushes or thread through floss or toothbrush to help gently remove it. If you have a concern about your gums or something that you cannot shift at home, contact your orthodontist and get booked in for an appointment right away. Try to avoid fiddling with your braces and wire, let them do their work so that you can reach your desired result effectively. The most helpful thing you can do as a patient is to maintain a great dental health routine and keep those teeth and braces clean.