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If you’re just starting your orthodontic journey, you’re probably wondering what is that twisted wire around braces and what does it do? Braces come with a lot of components and some look plain weird. So before you worry that your orthodontist is trying to lace your mouth shut, let’s dive into the world of lace ties and learn about their purpose.
This thin wire you’re wondering about has many names: lace ties, lace backs, long ties, under ties, etc. I use a lot of lace ties in my practice and rely heavily on them to move teeth where I need them to go. So if your orthodontist loves lace ties too, expect to wear them for the duration of the entire treatment.
Twisted wires Around Braces: What do Lace ties do?
Lace ties are long, thin stainless steel wires wrapped and twisted around the brackets, usually underneath the main braces wire, but they can go over the wire too. They help hold teeth in place, and their main function is to keep gaps closed or even contribute to space closure.
Let’s take a closer look at what long ties do:
Lace ties setup
Lace ties come in different setups, depending on the specific needs of the patient and the orthodontist’s preffered technique. The most common types of lace tie configurations are:
How are the lace ties activated?
Lace ties need to be activated periodically to maintain proper tension. This is typically done at every appointment, which is usually every 4-6 weeks.
Your orthodontist will activate the lace ties by twisting the wire end and cutting off the excess wire. This process is gentle and helps to gradually move the teeth into their proper position. Depending on how tightly the wire is twisted, you may feel more or less tension on your teeth, similar to a wire change.
What happens if a twisted wire breaks?
Lace ties are prone to breaking, especially if they are light in size. There are generally three gauges of ligature ties that orthodontists use, and if you have a thin wire, you might be dealing with some breakage.
Lace ties can break at the wire level or where the wire meets the twisted part, also called a pigtail. The steel tie pigtail withstands a lot of stress because of all the twisting, so it can often break. You can tuck the end of the pigtail with a pencil eraser so it doesn’t bother you.
However, when lace ties break, they most likely won’t stay on if you’re eating and speaking and you can deal with a long loose end that pokes your cheeks.
If tucking the broken end with a pencil eraser doesn’t help, you should notify your orthodontist and try to take it out yourself carefully. You can gently untwist the lace tie from underneath the brackets and wire, being careful not to pull on anything so you don’t break any brackets.
Your orthodontist will replace the broken lace tie or advise you to wait until your regularly scheduled appointment.
If you’re not able to remove the lace tie, it’s best to leave it to your orthodontist and use orthodontic wax instead. Wax can be a helpful solution if you are experiencing discomfort or irritation from your braces, broken wire or a broken lace tie.
To use wax, first, make sure that the area around the broken lace tie is clean and dry. Then, take a small piece of wax and roll it into a ball. Place the ball of wax over the broken lace tie, covering it completely. The wax will help to prevent the broken tie from rubbing against your cheek or tongue, reducing any irritation or discomfort.
Lace ties play a crucial role in orthodontic treatment, helping to maintain proper tooth alignment and keep spaces closed. Understanding the different types of lace ties and how they work can help you better understand your orthodontic treatment and what to expect.
If a lace tie breaks, don’t panic – it’s a common occurrence in orthodontic treatment, and your orthodontist will be able to replace it or advise you on what to do next.
Whether you’re new to braces or a braces veteran, taking care of your teeth (and your health) during orthodontic treatment is crucial. That’s why I’ve put together a list of orthodontist-recommended tools that will make caring for your braces a breeze: