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This is a common question we hear at our office. The short answer is they are not.  When brackets are initially placed on teeth, they are placed exactly where they need to be so that each individual tooth will be in perfect alignment.  Over time, with incorrect brushing and flossing, gum tissue becomes inflamed.  The bacteria found in plaque promotes an inflammatory response in the gum tissue, causing it to swell and appear close to the brackets.  Good oral hygiene is an important part of orthodontics. Without it, the movement of teeth becomes slower,  it hinders our ability to work on patients, and is in general bad for your teeth.  The good news is that this is reversible once proper brushing and flossing begins.  So keep on brushing and flossing! It may be more time consuming while having braces on, but it is well worth it.