How Do Labial Bows and Other Orthodontic Appliances Contribute to Success?

Orthodontic devices play a crucial role in achieving successful outcomes in dental treatments, addressing various issues related to tooth alignment and bite correction. Labial bows are a significant component of these appliances, contributing to the overall success of orthodontic treatments. 

What are Labial Bows?

Labial bows are thin wires that are typically attached to the labial surface (outer side) of the dental arch. The wires are often made out of stainless steel, which is a robust and flexible material suitable for use in dentistry. However, orthodontists are increasingly using alternative materials such as nickel-titanium alloys and, more recently, translucent polymers. Labial bows feature as part of removable orthodontic appliances, such as retainers.

One of the key ways labial bows contribute to success is by ensuring the longevity of orthodontic results. After the active phase of orthodontic treatment, which may involve braces or aligners to move teeth into the desired positions, it is necessary to stabilize the teeth in their new arrangement. Labial bows help in maintaining the corrected alignment, preventing the teeth from shifting back to their previous positions. This stabilization phase is essential for the overall success of the treatment program and the satisfaction of both patients and orthodontic professionals.

The Importance of Comfort

Labial bows contribute to the success of orthodontic devices by enhancing patient comfort. The thin wires are carefully designed to be minimally intrusive while effectively maintaining tooth alignment. With newer alloys such as nickel-titanium, heat-activated wires provide greater flexibility compared to stainless steel. These alloys, along with beta-titanium versions, have shape memory and are durable and robust, in addition to being more comfortable on account of being thinner. Greater comfort tends to lead to better patient compliance in wearing their appliances as prescribed by the orthodontist. The consistent and proper use of dental appliances is essential for achieving and maintaining successful outcomes.

What Other Appliances Are Used?

There is a wide range of other appliances available to orthodontists when constructing a patient treatment plan. Braces, for example, are a commonly used orthodontic device that employs brackets, wires and bands to gradually move teeth into the desired positions. The success of braces lies in their ability to correct a wide range of dental misalignments, including crowded teeth, gaps, and bite issues. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) provides a wide range of information about different devices and appliances. (1)

Technology and Treatment Success

Another component contributing to the success of orthodontic treatments is the advancement of technology in the field. Digital impressions, 3D printing, and computer-aided design (CAD) have revolutionized the orthodontic landscape, allowing for more precise and customized treatment plans. Digital models enable orthodontists to plan and execute treatments with a higher degree of accuracy, contributing to improved outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Patient Education and Adherence to Treatment

Patient education plays a pivotal role in the success of orthodontic treatments. Orthodontists invest time in educating patients about the importance of proper oral hygiene during treatment, the significance of regular check-ups and the role of dietary habits in maintaining overall oral health. Informed and educated patients are more likely to actively participate in their treatment process, leading to better outcomes. There is good evidence to show that improving patient involvement can lead to better treatment outcomes. (2)

Orthodontic success is also closely tied to patient cooperation and adherence to prescribed treatment plans. Compliance with wearing orthodontic devices, such as aligners, headgear and elastics, is crucial for achieving the desired results in the estimated treatment timeline. Orthodontic professionals often emphasize the importance of following instructions to optimize the success of treatment and minimize any potential setbacks. 

In addition to educating patients on device wear, orthodontists and their staff can provide emotional support and encouragement to patients to improve their engagement and motivation. Acknowledging the challenges that patients may face during treatment and providing positive reinforcement can enhance a patient’s commitment to the prescribed regimen. This psychological aspect of patient care can significantly impact treatment success as motivated and engaged patients are more likely to adhere to recommended practices.

What is Success?

Orthodontic success is not solely determined by the correction of dental misalignments; it also encompasses the impact on the patient’s overall well-being. Improved aesthetics, enhanced oral function and increased self-confidence are among the positive outcomes that contribute to the overall success of orthodontic treatments.

Labial bows and other orthodontic devices play a crucial role in the success of orthodontic treatments. The synergy of various orthodontic devices, patient cooperation, technological advancements and effective education collectively contribute to the success of orthodontic treatments, ultimately providing patients with healthier smiles and improved overall well-being.


2. Shelswell J, Patel VA, Barber S. The effectiveness of interventions to increase patient involvement in decision-making in orthodontics: A systematic review. J Orthod. 2022 Jun;49(2):129-142