What does it mean to get my braces “tightened”?

image of braces tightened or adjusted
What does it mean to get my braces “tightened”?
February 6, 2022

People with braces always seem to talk about how they have an appointment to get their braces “tightened.” So what does that mean? 

Initial appointments- Wire changes

In order to align your teeth, first we place brackets on your teeth (the little metal squares), and then we place a light wire made of nickel titanium in the brackets. This initial wire starts to straighten the teeth slowly, derotating and leveling the most crooked teeth. When we see you back at your subsequent appointments, we will then place a bigger wire each time. The wires get thicker (by hundredths of an inch!), and this allows more subtle tooth movements to take place, like torque. You may feel pressure for a few days, and consequently have a bit of discomfort. 


After a few months, we may use something called “powerchain,” which is a series of connected elastic circles that helps bring the teeth together and close space. It can cause some soreness, and make your teeth feel like they’re being tightened!

Finishing wires or final wires

Eventually, as you reach the end of your treatment, we will place something called “finishing wires” or “final wires.” These are usually made of stainless steel so they are stiff, and I can put bends in the wire to make sure the position of each tooth is perfect. Once the teeth are perfect, and your bite is ideal, you are ready to get your braces off! 

In conclusion, “tightening” your braces means we place bigger wires, add bends in the wires, and/or place powerchain. The tightening is what allows us to give you a beautiful smile! If you ever have any questions at your appointment and we haven’t explained them clearly enough to you, please ask! We love talking about what we do! 

Video- see a normal braces appointment in action!

Still confused, nervous about your appointments, or interested to know more? Follow the link to our Instagram below to watch a video of one of our patients getting their braces adjusted (@bestorthonc).

Braces adjustment appointment

Dr. Best