Did you know that orthodontics and NASA have something huge in common? No, it’s not space exploration, but that has surprisingly helped advance braces to where they are today. NASA was key to the development of what is known as space age wire. These wires are made of a nickle-titanium alloy that was originally engineered by NASA to work in antennae and solar panels on satellites. They are heat-activated, so instead of reacting to the heat of the sun in space, they now react to the body heat in one’s mouth.
What’s the Difference?
Traditional braces are big, clunky, and use metal wires that have to be adjusted frequently. They are much more rigid than space age wires, which can bend easily. Even though they are more flexible, space age wires are not weaker but more resilient.
Originally developed in the 1960s for NASA, this type of wire eventually made its way to the field of orthodontics. These wires have two distinct properties, shape memory and super-elasticity. Space age wire’s shape memory means it has the ability to retain its original shape after being bent or deformed. It can snap back into its original position because of its super-elasticity.
With traditional braces, orthodontists have to regularly replace the wires in their patients’ mouth, but with space age wire’s bendable and heat controlled technology, they don’t have to be changed as frequently. They also usually cut down on the amount of time that you would need to wear braces because of their fast-acting technology. With fewer wire adjustments and doctor visits, these wires greatly increase the ease and comfort of your lifestyle with braces.
How Do They Work?
The name “space age wire” sounds so futuristic, but the process and technology behind how they operate to give you a straight smile is not as bizarre as you might think. Their shape memory that allows them to remember their original shape is also referred to as “thermo-elasticity.” While that term might not mean much to you, it actually describes exactly what the wires are doing: the alloy in the wires is heat-activated.
When the wires are heated up, they can be molded into an arch shape to fit the patient’s mouth. The wires are then cooled and tied to the brackets to fit on the braces. As the wires heat up in the mouth from the patient’s body heat, they then start to return to their original arch form, pulling the teeth with them. This force brings the teeth in line with each other and straightens them.
The wire’s super-elasticity is activated with the increased temperature. The force produced from the elasticity of the wire is constant and strong enough to move the teeth into the desired placement. This amount of independence allows the wires to function almost completely on their own and allows for less time at the orthodontist.
If these sound like the right fit for you or you have any further questions about how they work, call our office at (843) 4-BRACES. Schedule a free consultation today to learn if you are eligible for these cosmic braces.