All About Arch Wires - Biermann Orthodontics

All About Arch Wires in Orthodontics: Purpose, Types, and Recommended Uses

If you’re considering braces, you may have heard the term arch wire used. But you probably have no idea what that means!

We’ll explain what orthodontic arch wires are, the purpose they serve, and what types may be used in your braces. And if you’re interested in straightening your teeth without the use of wires, we can fill you in on that as well.

Table of Contents

What Is an Arch Wire?

An orthodontic arch wire is the wire that attaches to your braces. It is called an “arch wire” because your top teeth comprise your top arch, and your bottom teeth comprise your bottom arch. 

An arch wire is like the engine that guides and moves your teeth. Without an arch wire to connect your braces, you would just be wearing braces for fun and your teeth would never move! These braces wires come in different sizes and have different material compositions.

What Is the Purpose of the Arch Wire?

When you first start treatment with braces, your teeth are crooked. The wire that attaches to your braces must be able to return to its original shape when it is deformed or bent. The force that returns the wire to its original shape is what moves your teeth. The wire should be springy, yet exert a gentle force so that your brackets do not pop off when the orthodontist ties in your arch wire.

As your teeth get straighter, your orthodontist will exchange the wire in your braces for stronger wires that are usually less elastic and stiffer. These stronger, stiffer wires allow the orthodontist to have more control over tooth movements. Oftentimes, these later wires have characteristics that allow the orthodontist to put permanent bends in the arch wire if he wants to move individual teeth.

What Are the Different Types of Arch Wires?

When orthodontists discuss the different types of arch wires, they are typically referring to either the size/shape of the wires or the materials they’re made with.

Arch wires come in round or rectangular shapes, and they may be composed of stainless steel, nickel-titanium, or beta-titanium.

Size and Shape of Arch Wires

When orthodontists talk about the “size” of an arch wire, they are referring to the cross-section or thickness of the wire. Considering arch wires made from identical materials, the smaller the cross-section, the more elastic and less stiff the wire will be. 

Wires come in two types of cross-sections: 

  1. Round – These dental braces wires are round in a cross section.
  2. Rectangular – Rectangular wires can be square or rectangular in a cross section.

In the beginning stages of treatment, round wires are typically used to level and align the teeth. This is because when considering arch wires made from identical materials, round wires are more elastic and so the orthodontist will be able to engage all your teeth into the wire without popping off brackets. 

If the orthodontist uses a wire that is too stiff and tries to tie the arch wire to a really crooked tooth, the wire will put too much pressure on the bracket, and the bracket may break off from the tooth.

After the teeth are straighter, orthodontists usually advance to rectangular wires. Because the wire slot of the bracket is rectangular, a rectangular wire fits into the bracket like a hand fits into a glove. 

In the beginning, the smaller rectangular wire may be like a small hand in a large glove. However, by the end of treatment, the rectangular wire you have may be more like a large hand in a large glove. By fitting snugly into the bracket, the rectangular wire controls tooth movement better than a round wire.

Arch Wire Materials

Now that you understand a little about why orthodontists like elastic wires in the beginning of braces treatment and stronger, stiffer wires at the end of treatment, let us consider what materials the arch wires are made of.

There are three main types of material compositions for arch wires: 

  1. Stainless steel
  2. Nickel-titanium (Ni-Ti)
  3. Beta-titanium

Let’s look into these a little further.

Stainless Steel Braces Wires

Stainless steel wires have been used for decades due to their high strength. In addition, stainless steel wires do not rust and can be adjusted in many different ways by the orthodontist without breaking. 

However, stainless steel wires are not very elastic, meaning that if you bend these wires too much, they will assume the new position and will not return to their original position. 

In the beginning stages of treatment, it is important for the wires to be elastic so that the wires can bounce back to a nice smooth U-shape and carry the teeth with them at the same time. In the initial stages of aligning very crooked teeth, stainless steel wires may not be the best option.

Nickel-Titanium Braces Wires

Nickel-titanium (Ni-Ti) wires are elastic and can return to their original shape when deformed. Therefore, in the beginning stages of orthodontic treatment, Ni-Ti wires are frequently used to put gentle forces on the crooked teeth to align them. 

A variation of Ni-Ti wires is heat-activated Ni-Ti (copper Ni-Ti) wires. Heat-activated Ni-Ti wires can hold the deformed configuration at room temperature, but when the wire reaches the temperature of a patient’s mouth, the wire will return to its original shape. 

Heat-activated Ni-Ti wires are useful in the beginning stages of treatment. If the teeth are extremely crooked, the wire can be cooled so it can be tied into the brackets easier. Then after a few minutes, it will reach the temperature of the patient’s mouth, displaying its Ni-Ti elastic properties. The warm wire will want to assume its original U-shape and carry the teeth to their new, straighter positions.

Beta-Titanium Braces Wires

Beta-titanium wires were developed after Ni-Ti wires and offer an intermediate range of elasticity and strength while also being able to be permanently deformed. 

This wire serves as a good intermediary wire between Ni-Ti and stainless steel. Some orthodontists will use this wire starting in the middle of treatment while other orthodontists do not use this type of wire at all.

What’s the Best Orthodontic Arch Wire To Use?

So which arch wires will your orthodontist use? It is difficult to say because all patients are different and all orthodontists have their own technique for adjusting braces. 

Some orthodontists only use Ni-Ti wires while other orthodontists only use stainless steel wires. However, most orthodontists typically start with small Ni-Ti wires to align crooked teeth in the beginning and then progress to larger stainless steel or beta-titanium wires when more control of teeth is necessary.

Many patients think that their wires need to be changed at every visit. This is usually not true. With the wide assortment of wires these days, your orthodontist may only need to use three to five sets of wires during treatment. More wires may be needed for complicated cases.

Is It Possible To Straighten My Teeth Without Using Wired Braces?

Yes, it is! Many people want straighter teeth and a more beautiful smile without the hassle of having wires attached to their teeth. 

For these patients, we highly recommend Invisalign. This series of digitally-designed, nearly invisible aligners will straighten your teeth comfortably, plus you can remove them when needed.

Biermann Orthodontics is a Diamond Plus Invisalign Provider, meaning we are in the top 1% of orthodontist’s offices that provide this service.


See if Invisalign will work for you, and then contact us today to set up a consultation.

Stephen Yang, DMD, MS, is a writer and Senior Editor for Dr. Yang received his Bachelors degree in Psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles. Following his undergraduate studies, Dr. Yang attended the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, where he completed his Evidence-Based-Dentistry thesis and obtained his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Yang went on to study at the University of Southern California where he received his Certification in Orthodontics. Concurrently at USC, he completed his thesis on one phase versus two phase treatment in patients with large overbites, and obtained his Masters of Science in Craniofacial Biology.

Dr. Yang is a Board Certified Orthodontist, practicing in Antioch, California. He is a Certified Invisalign Provider, and is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists, Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists, American Dental Association, and California Dental Association.

Original Article:

Looking for an orthodontist in Beaverton, Oregon? Biermann Orthodontics is a cutting-edge orthodontic practice that serves Beaverton and Molalla, OR, and focuses on providing world-class customer service and efficient treatment. We strive to create stunning smiles in the shortest amount of time without ever sacrificing quality.

Visit our Locations page to find a clinic near you, or schedule an initial consultation.

Biermann Orthodontics

17885 NW Evergreen Parkway, Suite 200
Beaverton, OR 97006


The content in this blog should not be used in place of direct medical advice/treatment and is solely for informational purposes.

Dry Mouth With Braces - Biermann Orthodintics

Dry Mouth With Braces: What’s the Deal?

Achieving a healthy and beautiful smile with braces is an exciting journey — but also a journey that comes with discomforts and unexpected symptoms, including dry mouth.

If you have braces and experience some side effects such as a dry, cottony feeling in your mouth, there are solutions that can allow you to remain more comfortable until the braces are off.

Table of Contents

What’s the Connection Between Braces and Dry Mouth?

If you’re a candidate for braces, your dentist will examine your mouth by taking X-rays and performing an oral exam. He should ensure that all of your teeth are properly aligned and your bite is even in conjunction with your jaw.

If he sees a problem, he may refer you to an orthodontist for further evaluation and placement of braces. Your mouth then goes through a metamorphosis as it reshapes and readjusts to the proper fitting. You could experience a dry mouth during this time.

It may take a few weeks or months to get fully adjusted to having braces. According to MedlinePlus, You may experience dryness-related symptoms such as:

  • Parched lips
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry lips
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Thirst
  • Thick and stringy saliva
  • Soreness in the mouth, and 
  • Cuts and cracks at the corners of your mouth

The braces take up more space in your mouth, which can cause irritation to your gums and the sides of your mouth. Any type of irritation can promote dryness. 

After you have your braces placed and when you have to get them adjusted, you may feel pain or extreme discomfort in your mouth. 

Because your mouth experiences a lot of pressure as the adjustment process takes place, soreness is common as the arch wires, brackets, and bands are placed into the right position. This can lead to a dry mouth. It may also lead to an increase in thirst, especially when you wake up in the morning. 

Every time there is work done inside your mouth, there’s an increased risk of dryness and irritation.

Solutions for Those Experiencing Dry Mouth With Braces

You may be prohibited from eating certain foods such as chips, candy, ice, hard foods, nuts, jerky, and gum. Some foods can break down orthodontic appliances and prevent a successful orthodontic experience. 

Why do we mention this?

Normally, chewing gum may help you produce more saliva and prevent dry mouth, but with braces, you may experience dry mouth because of omitting foods and snacks (like gum) from your diet.

So, what can you do instead to help with dry mouth and lips from braces? Try the following: 

  • Stay hydrated. Not only will drinking more water increase your hydration, decreasing the risk of dry mouth, but it will also help you maintain your oral hygiene. 
  • Use ice chips. We do not recommend chewing ice as it may cause pain or damage to your orthodontic appliances, but sucking on ice chips is another great way to reduce dry mouth with braces and increase hydration. 
  • Breathe through your nose. 
  • Consider asking your dentist or orthodontist to prescribe an artificial saliva product.
  • Consult your dentist or orthodontist for additional remedies and information on preventing dry mouth with braces.

Biermann Orthodontics: Serving Patients Throughout and Around Beaverton, OR

Already have braces and experiencing symptoms, like dry mouth? Talk with one of our orthodontists to make sure you’re taking the right steps to prevent it as much as possible. 

At Biermann Orthodontics we understand that some patients want to completely avoid the symptoms, like dry mouth with braces. This is why we do our best to provide a thorough consultation and share your options with you. 

For some, products like Invisalign® may be a better option than traditional braces. For others, braces may be the best route to take. 

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us or request an appointment today.

Original Article:

Looking for an orthodontist in Beaverton, Oregon? Biermann Orthodontics is a cutting-edge, affordable orthodontic practice that serves Beaverton and Molalla, OR, and focuses on providing world-class customer service and efficient treatment. We strive to create stunning smiles in the shortest amount of time without ever sacrificing quality.

Visit our Locations page to find a clinic near you, or schedule an initial consultation.

Biermann Orthodontics

17885 NW Evergreen Parkway, Suite 200
Beaverton, OR 97006

Orthodontic Mouth Guard

Can I Play Sports with Braces on My Teeth?

by DR. JOSEPH THOMPSON | Featured on Ask an Orthodontist

A lot of people enjoy watching sports and participating in sports activities.  It’s exciting when we see our team or the underdog come back and win the game.  Some parents are concerned about their children playing sports while they have braces on their teeth.  The question often asked is, “Are there any limitations or sports that my child can’t participate in?”  During orthodontic treatment with braces, a child can play any sport.  However, we have to be careful to protect our lips and teeth from injury.  The best way to protect our teeth is with an orthodontic mouth guard.

Orthodontic mouth guards are different from a regular mouth guard.  First the regular mouth guard is thermoplastic.  Before using it, you have to heat the regular mouth guard and bite into it to create imprints of your teeth.  This is a problem with orthodontic treatment.  As the orthodontist moves your teeth, the regular mouth guard will try to move the teeth into an old position going against the tooth movement we want.  Or eventually the teeth will move so much that the regular mouth guard will not fit any more.

Read more

Getting Braces as an Adult

Getting Braces as an Adult

Interested in getting braces? An initial consultation will provide an opportunity to ask questions about orthodontic treatment such as:

  • What are the costs involved in getting braces?
  • How will the braces correct my problem?
  • How long will I need to wear braces?

Contact us for a free consultation and Biermann Orthodontics will set you up with an evaluation!

Less noticeable teeth straightening options are available today. Learn about your options.

by Krisha McCoy, MS on Everyday Health

Many adults with crooked teeth think they missed their opportunity for braces during childhood. But dental professionals now readily use braces to help correct dental problems at any age. In fact, adult braces are more popular today than ever before.

When Adult Braces Can Help

Adult braces can be used to correct a variety of dental problems, including:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Overcrowded teeth
  • Bite abnormalities (for example, an overbite or underbite)
  • Problems with jaw position
  • Jaw joint problems

Read more

Besty Way to Floss Braces - Biermann Orthodontics

Got Braces? It’s Easier to Clean & Floss with a Water Flosser

Cleaning Dental Braces

Dental braces can create oral health problems such as gingivitis and decalcification (white marks), which lead to more serious issues.

  • Gingivitis is the earliest sign of gum disease. It appears as red, swollen, and shiny gums that bleed easily. It is caused by plaque that irritates the gum tissue and causes an infection.
  • Decalcification affects your tooth enamel, causing white spots or lesions on your teeth. It is caused by a combination of plaque and acid production after you eat and drink. Decalcification is impossible to correct, so prevention is critical.

You can minimize or prevent oral health problems caused by dental braces with good dental and orthodontic care.

Read more

First Day in Braces - Biermann Orthodontics

First Day in Braces: Silke from Sidney, Australia

First Day in Braces: Silke from Sidney, Australia

Here are some weird and wonderful things I thought I’d share with you about my experience with braces so far. I’ve had my braces on for 3 and a half months now. My teeth have moved quite dramatically already. I never expected it to happen so quickly. Anyway here’s my list of hopefully helpful tips for anyone out there thinking of getting braces:

Lots and lots of people have not even noticed I have braces. This surprised me because before getting them, I envisioned explaining my metal mouth to everyone and their dog. I told people at work I was getting braces and believe it or not, one girl was jealous! She says she has always wanted braces. She has perfect teeth but even asked her dentist if she could please get braces. Now that I did not expect.

Read more

7 Tips to Prevent Ceramic Braces From Staining

7 Tips to Prevent Ceramic Braces From Staining

Ceramic braces are brackets that are made to easily blend in with your teeth hence making them unnoticeable. Unlike the metallic and clear braces, these are made to look like your teeth hence more preferred. The ceramic braces are also favored due to their ability to align teeth much faster than the metallic and clear brackets. However, as much as we would like to have these unique ceramic braces, they stain easily if not well taken care of. You need to know the factors that lead to staining beforehand, so you can prevent your ceramic braces from staining in the future. Unfortunately, some people learn through experience which should never be the case.

Brush Your Teeth After Every Meal

This cannot be emphasized enough. This is a practice that should be trained even to small children due to its importance. Making it a habit to brush your teeth with braces immediately after meals ensures that the food color and flavors are washed off hence leaving the mouth clean. This will also prevent tooth decay which is higher due to food getting trapped in between brackets.

Read more

About Braces

About Rubber Bands for Braces

Orthodontic braces perfect your smile by applying constant, steady pressure to move your teeth into proper position. The brackets and wires attached to your teeth are limited in the direction of the applied force, however. Some situations, particularly to correct bite problems, require the upper and lower rows of teeth to move relative to each other. Rubber bands, or elastics, hooked to the brackets apply tension in directions brackets and wires cannot achieve alone.


Elastics apply constant pressure to align the teeth in a perfect bite, states the website Rubber Bands for Braces. The lower jaw must move relative to the upper teeth for proper alignment. Braces alone only move teeth along the upper or lower arch.

Read more

Tooth Pain From Braces - Biermann Orthodontics

Tooth Braces and Pain

Braces are a fact of life for many people—according to a study done by, approximately 4 million people in the United States are under orthodontic care at any given time, and 80 percent of teenagers will wear braces. Braces can cause tooth pain, though it’s typically not severe and doesn’t last for very long.

What Are Braces For?
Braces help straighten crooked teeth, close gaps and spaces, and correct over-bites and under-bites. They’re typically worn by younger teenagers, but can be put on at any age. Depending on the severity of the correction, braces come in several different styles, including metal, clear, behind-the-teeth and “invisible.”

How Do Braces Work?
According to, standard braces straighten teeth with a combination of metal brackets, wires and rubber bands. Metal brackets are glued to the front of the teeth and then connected with a wire that helps move teeth side to side. Colored rings called litigating modules go around the brackets to hold the wires in place, and can be changed frequently to match outfits or for holidays. Rubber bands are used to move teeth forward and backward and can be stretched from front teeth back to molars, or from top teeth to bottom teeth.

Read more

What are Orthodontic Spacers?

Your orthodontist may have told you that you need to have spacers before your braces go on. What does this mean?

Some of your teeth may need brackets that are attached to metal bands that go all the way around the tooth.* Usually, the bands are used only on molars. If the space between your molars is very tight, it will be difficult for the orthodontist to put the bands on the teeth. Therefore, space must be opened up to fit the bands in. This is where spacers come in.

SpacersSpacers are little rubber nodules that fit between the teeth. In some cases, your orthodontist may use a metal spacer, which looks like a tiny metal hinge. The spacers stay between your teeth for several days and move the teeth apart slightly. You wear the spacers 24/7 until your orthodontist removes them. Do not floss teeth that have spacers between them (it will be impossible)!

Read more