ABOUT orthodontics

Ortho Dictionary

Choose a glossary:

  • Parts of Braces
  • Orthodontic Procedures

Parts of Braces

Attachment.- These are tooth-colored shapes that are glued to your teeth that help the clear aligners grab and move your teeth.

Appliance.- Appliances refer to the devices your orthodontist attaches to your teeth to move them or the devices that guide the growth of your jaw.

Archwire.- Archwires are the metal wires that work with braces to guide your teeth as they move. Archwires are changed periodically during the course of your treatment. The wire is what is providing the force to move the teeth with braces.

Band.- Bands are metal rings that fit completely around a tooth. They are bonded to the tooth and provide a way to attach special appliances. Most patients at our office do not need bands

Bond.- Bond refers to the seal that orthodontic cement creates in order to hold appliances in place.

Bracket.- Brackets are the metal or ceramic pieces of braces that are bonded to your teeth. Their job is to hold the archwire in place.

Button.- Similar to a bracket but has no place for a wire. These are often used with clear aligners for rubberband wear.

Coil Springs.- Coil springs fit between brackets and over the archwires and work to open or hold desired spaces between the teeth.

Elastic (Rubber Band).- Elastics are the small rubber bands that are used between different points on your appliance to provide the pressure needed to achieve certain tooth movements. The braces make your teeth straight, the elastics work to correct your bite and make your top and bottom teeth fit together.

Elastic Tie.- Elastic ties, or ligature ties, refer to the tiny rubber bands that fit around the brackets and hold the archwire in place. They can be personalized in your favorite colors and are changed at every appointment

Expander retainers.- These are removable retainers used in phase 1 treatment to expand the upper jaw as well as the upper and lower dental arches to make room for all of the permanent teeth to erupt.

Headgear.- Headgear utilizes an external wire known as a facebow to guide the growth of the jaw and face, while also guiding teeth to their ideal locations.

Headgear Tube.- A headgear tube is a round, hollow attachment on the back bands to which the inner bow of the headgear fits. There are 2 main types of head gear, the first move the upper jaw back and the second moves the upper jaw forward and is called a “facemask” or “reverse-pull headgear”.

Hook.- Hooks are the small arms on the braces to which elastics are placed. A welded or removable arm to which elastics are attached.

Ligature.- Ligatures are the thin wires that hold the archwire in the brackets.

Lip Bumper.- A lip bumper is an archwire that is attached to a molded piece of plastic, whose job is to hold back the molars on the lower jaw in order to provide adequate space for the other teeth.

Mouthguard.- Mouthguards fit over the teeth to protect them from injury during sports or other physical activities that could result in an injury to the mouth. These can be made to fit over braces and we recommend that patients wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports.

Palatal Expander.- Palatal expanders widen the upper jaw by placing gentle pressure on the upper molars. Your orthodontist will provide directions on when and how to make the adjustments by activating the expander. Once the desired expansion has been reached, the expander will remain in place for a bit longer to ensure the expansion holds and prevent the arch from regressing.

Retainer.- Retainers are worn after braces to retain the new locations of the teeth. They can be used on the upper or lower teeth, or both. Some are removable, while others are bonded directly to the lingual side of the teeth.

Separator or Spacer.- Separators are small rubber rings that are used to create a space between your teeth before bands are placed.

Wax.- Orthodontic wax is used by patients to prevent braces from irritating the insides of their mouths.

Orthodontic Procedures

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.  No shots or drilling is needed to get your braces to stay on.

Cephalometric X-ray.- An X-ray of your head that shows the relative positions and growth of the face, jaws, and teeth.

Clear Aligners. – An alternative to traditional braces, Clear aligners straighten your teeth with a series of clear, custom, plastic aligners. Clear aligners can correct most, but not all, orthodontic problems.

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.

Digital Impressions.- A special camera is used to scan your teeth and create a 3D model of teeth.  The model is measured on the computer to create the treatment plan and is printed when needed to make custom fit appliances.

Impressions.- A model of your mouth made by biting into a soft material that hardens into a mold of your teeth  – they are used to make retainers at the end of treatment.

Invisalign®.-A brand of clear aligners

Ligation.- The process of attaching an archwire to the brackets on your teeth.

Panoramic X-ray.- An X-ray that rotates around your head to take pictures of your teeth, jaw, and other facial areas.  This important X-ray shows how the teeth are erupting and helps screen for potential problems that can be mitigated with timely intervention.

Please contact our practice to schedule an appointment for an orthodontic evaluation. If needed, early treatment now will give your child a healthy, beautiful smile for the future.