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Arch Wire Materials

Author:Sunriseti Date:7/17/2012 7:13:51 PM

There are three main types of material compositions for arch wires: 1) Stainless Steel; 2) Nickel-Titanium (Ni-Ti); and 3) Beta-Titanium.

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 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 it at the same time. So as you can see, in the initial stages of aligning very crooked teeth, stainless steel wires may not be the best option.

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 are heat-activated Ni-Ti (Copper Ni-Ti) wires. Heat-activated Ni-Ti wires can hold the deformed configuration at room temperate, 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 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.

Which Wire to Use?

So which 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 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.