Most people who get braces have no idea what a coil spring is until their orthodontist tells them they need one (or more) for their treatment.
So, what are they, who is likely to need them and what do you need to know?
This article will provide you with everything you need to know about braces coil springs, including the types, functions, advantages, potential challenges, and proper care.
Who is Likely to Need Coil Springs on Their Braces?
Not everyone who has braces will require coil springs. The need for coil springs depends on the specific issues being addressed in the patient’s treatment plan.
Here are some common scenarios in which coil springs may be recommended:
Patients with crowded teeth, with insufficient space in the dental arch for all the teeth to fit properly, may need to use open coil springs. These springs help create the necessary space by applying gentle force between the teeth, allowing for better alignment.
When a tooth is extracted, the orthodontist may use closed coil springs to maintain the space left by the removed tooth. This ensures that neighboring teeth do not shift into the empty space, which can cause misalignment and impede the success of the orthodontic treatment.
If a patient has diastema (gaps between teeth) that need to be closed, closed coil springs can be used to apply consistent force to bring the teeth closer together. This helps eliminate the gap and improve overall dental aesthetics.
In some cases, a tooth may be rotated or misaligned, requiring additional force to correct its position. Continuous coil springs can assist in rotating the tooth back into its proper alignment.
Uneven Dental Arches
Patients with uneven dental arches may require the use of continuous coil springs to level and align their arches. These springs provide consistent force over a wide range of tooth movements, which can be beneficial in correcting uneven arches.
Ultimately, the decision to include coil springs in an orthodontic treatment plan is based on each patient’s specific needs and goals.
Your orthodontist will carefully assess your individual case and determine if coil springs are necessary to achieve the desired results.
Types of Braces Coil Springs
There are three main types of braces coil springs: open, closed, and continuous coil springs. Each type serves a unique purpose in orthodontic treatment and is used according to the patient’s specific needs.
Open Coil Springs
Open coil springs are small, helical coils that are placed between two brackets on the same archwire. These springs apply gentle force to create space between teeth to relieve crowding or provide room for a tooth to move into its correct position. They typically exert force in the 100-200 grams range and extend when activated.
Closed Coil Springs
Closed coil springs, as the name suggests, have a compressed appearance and are designed to maintain or close space between teeth. They are often used to keep a gap closed after tooth extraction or help move teeth together in diastema (gaps between teeth). Closed coil springs exert continuous, light force and are less visible compared to open coil springs.
Continuous Coil Springs
Continuous coil springs, or superelastic or NiTi, are made from a special nickel-titanium alloy. These springs are characterized by their ability to provide a constant force over a wide range of tooth movements. They can be used for various orthodontic purposes, such as leveling and aligning the dental arches, assisting in tooth rotation, and closing spaces.
Function and Purpose of Braces Coil Springs
Braces coil springs play a crucial role in the orthodontic treatment process. The primary functions of these springs are:
Creating Space Between Teeth
One of the main purposes of braces coil springs is to create space between crowded teeth. Open coil springs, in particular, are effective in achieving this goal. By applying gentle, consistent force, these springs help to create the necessary space for proper tooth alignment.
In cases where a tooth has been extracted or space needs to be maintained for other reasons, closed coil springs come into play. These springs work by applying gentle force to hold the teeth on either side of the space, preventing them from prematurely shifting and closing the gap.
Assisting in Tooth Movement
Braces coil springs, especially continuous coil springs, can help move teeth more efficiently and effectively. By applying constant force over a wide range of tooth movements, these springs aid in the overall tooth movement process, making orthodontic treatment more predictable and successful.
How Braces Coil Springs Work
Braces coil springs work in tandem with brackets and wires to apply force and direct tooth movement. The force generated by the springs is applied to the teeth through the brackets and wires, facilitating movement in the desired direction.
Force Application and Distribution
When a coil spring is placed between two brackets, it exerts force on the teeth connected to those brackets. The force applied by the spring is then transmitted to the teeth through the archwire and brackets. The tooth movement occurs as a result of this force application, which the orthodontist carefully controls to achieve the desired outcome.
Interplay with Brackets and Wires
Braces coil springs work in conjunction with brackets and wires to create an effective orthodontic treatment system. The interplay between these components is essential for successful tooth movement and alignment.
- Brackets as Anchors
Brackets are bonded to the surface of the teeth and serve as anchors for the archwire and coil springs. They hold the archwire in place and facilitate the transfer of force from the springs to the teeth. The bracket design and material, as well as the type of orthodontic treatment, can impact the effectiveness of the coil springs.
- Archwires as Guides
Archwires play a crucial role in guiding tooth movement by connecting the brackets and providing a track to move the teeth. They come in various materials, thicknesses, and shapes, each offering unique properties that affect tooth movement. The archwire works together with the coil springs to apply controlled force to the teeth, ensuring efficient and predictable tooth movement.
- Adjustments and Progress
The orthodontist adjusts the coil springs, brackets, and wires throughout the treatment to ensure optimal results. Regular orthodontic appointments are essential for making these adjustments, monitoring progress, and ensuring the treatment is on track. The orthodontist may change the type of coil spring, adjust the tension, or modify the archwire shape to achieve the desired tooth movement.
Potential Challenges and Side Effects
While braces coil springs offer many advantages, there can be some challenges and side effects associated with their use:
When braces coil springs are first placed or adjusted, patients may experience some initial discomfort or pressure. This feeling is normal and should subside within a few days as the teeth adjust to the new force.
Oral Hygiene Challenges
Maintaining proper oral hygiene can be more difficult with braces and coil springs in place. Food particles can get trapped around the brackets, wires, and springs, increasing the risk of plaque buildup and dental issues. Regular dental cleanings and proper oral hygiene practices are crucial during orthodontic treatment.
In rare cases, some patients may have an allergic reaction to the metal components of braces coil springs, particularly nickel. If you suspect you may have a metal allergy, inform your orthodontist, who can suggest alternative materials or treatment options.
Caring for Coil Springs
Proper care is essential for maintaining the effectiveness of your orthodontic treatment and preventing complications. Here are some tips for caring for your braces with coil springs:
Proper Brushing Techniques
Brush your teeth at least twice a day, ideally after every meal. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and brush carefully around the brackets, wires, and coil springs to remove any trapped food particles.
An interdental or “Christmas tree” brush can be helpful for cleaning around braces and hard-to-reach areas.
Flossing and Interdental Cleaning
Flossing is crucial for maintaining good oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment. Use a floss threader or orthodontic floss to navigate between the archwire and your teeth. Be gentle but thorough, ensuring you clean the spaces between your teeth and around the brackets. Interdental brushes can also be useful for cleaning between teeth and around braces.
While wearing braces with coil springs, avoiding certain foods that can damage your orthodontic appliances or cause discomfort is essential. Sticky or hard foods, such as caramel, taffy, popcorn, and hard candies, should be avoided. Also, avoid biting into hard foods, like apples or carrots, without first cutting them into smaller pieces.
Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings
Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings during your orthodontic treatment. Your dentist will ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy while your braces are in place and address any issues.
Attend all your scheduled orthodontic appointments to ensure your treatment progresses as planned. Your orthodontist will monitor your progress, make adjustments to your braces and coil springs, and provide guidance on proper care and maintenance.
Understanding the role of braces coil springs in your orthodontic treatment can help you better appreciate the process and the importance of following your orthodontist’s recommendations.
These small but essential components play a crucial role in achieving a beautiful, healthy smile. Trust your orthodontist’s expertise and follow their guidance to ensure the best possible outcome for your orthodontic treatment.