During your treatment, you’ll hear a lot of new words. This dictionary explains what some of those terms mean, but don’t worry – you can always ask our team if you aren’t sure what they’re talking about. We’re always happy to answer questions and educate our patients.
Parts of Braces
Appliance: Anything your orthodontist attaches to your teeth that moves your teeth or changes the shape of your jaw, such as expanders, holding arches, habit appliances, etc.
Archwire: Archwire is the metal wire that acts as a track to guide your teeth as they move. Your orthodontist will change it periodically throughout treatment as your teeth move to new positions.
Band: The bands are metal rings that are cemented to your tooth, and go completely around it. Bands provide a way to attach brackets to your teeth. These are RARELY used in our offices as it is an older way of putting a brace on the molar teeth. The only time we use bands is if we need to do an appliance of some sort (see appliances above).
Bond: A bond is the seal created by orthodontic cement to hold your appliances in place.
Bracket: A bracket is the metal or ceramic part that is cemented (“bonded”) to your tooth to hold your archwire in place.
Coil Spring: Coil springs fit between your brackets and over your archwire to open or close spaces between your teeth.
Elastic (Rubber Band): Rubber bands hook between different points on your braces/appliances to provide pressure to move your teeth to a new position.
Elastic Tie: Elastic ties are the rubber bands that fit around your brackets to hold the archwire in place and come in a variety of colors. This is only used in our traditional braces.
Headgear: Headgear uses an external wire apparatus known as a facebow to gently guide the growth of your face and jaw by moving your teeth into proper position. Force is applied to the facebow by a spring-loaded neck strap or head strap that have a safety release that disconnects if the facebow is pulled or snagged. Not commonly used since there are easier ways to get this correction.
Headgear Tube: The tube is a round, hollow attachment on your back bands that holds in the inner bow of your headgear.
Hook: Elastics are attached to this welded or removable arm.
Ligature: These thin wires that hold your archwire into your bracket.
Lip Bumper: A lip bumper is an archwire attached to a molded piece of plastic. The lip bumper holds back the molars on your lower jaw to provide more space for your other teeth.
Mouth guard: Mouth guards protect your mouth from injury during contact sports or rigorous activity.
Palatal Expander: This device widens your upper jaw.
Retainer: Retainers are worn after braces are removed and fit over the upper and/or lower teeth to hold them in place. In some cases, retainers may be bonded to the tongue side of teeth.
Separator or Spacer: These are small, rubber rings that are used to create space between your teeth before the bands are attached.
The Wire: A fine wire that is twisted around your bracket to hold the archwire in place.
Wax: Wax is used to stop your braces from irritating your lips.
Banding: The process of fitting and cementing orthodontic bands to your teeth.
Bonding: The process of attaching brackets to your teeth using special orthodontic cement.
Cephalometric X-ray: An X-ray of your head that shows the relative positions and growth of the face, jaws, and teeth.
Consultation: A meeting with your orthodontist to discuss a treatment plan.
Debanding: The process of removing cemented orthodontic bands from your teeth.
Debonding: The process of removing cemented orthodontic brackets from your teeth.
Impressions: A model of your mouth made by biting into a soft material that hardens into a mold of your teeth. Your orthodontist will use these impressions to prepare your treatment plan. Impressions are rarely used in our office as we have an Itero scanner, which is a series of small pictures stitched together.
Invisaling®: An alternative to traditional braces, Invisalign straightens your teeth with a series of clear custom-molded aligners. Invisalign can correct some, but not all, orthodontic problems.
Ligation: The process of attaching an archwire to the brackets on your teeth with ties (colored or clear).
Panoromic X-ray: An x-ray that rotates around your head to take pictures of your teeth, jaw, and other facial areas. We only use digital x-rays in our office so the exposure to radiation is minimal compared to traditional x-rays.