Orthodontics Dictionary

Parts of Braces

Appliance: Anything an orthodontist attaches to the teeth to either move them or change the jaw shape.

Archwire: The metal wire that functions as a track along which the teeth are guided as they move. This is changed periodically during treatment as the teeth move to new positions.

Band: A metal ring that is fixed all around the tooth. Bands are most often used on back teeth and offer a way by which brackets can be attached to the teeth.

Bond: The seal formed by orthodontic cement to hold the appliances in place. “Bonding” is the term used to brackets that are glued directly to teeth using a band.

Bracket: A precision ceramic or metal part cemented (or “bonded”) to the tooth that holds the archwire in place and ensures that the right forces are applied to the tooth.

Coil Spring: A spring that is placed between the brackets and over the archwire to open space between the teeth.

Elastic (Rubber Band): A small rubber band that is hooked between various points on the appliance to provide light, consistent pressure to move the teeth to their new position.

Elastic Tie: A tiny rubber band that is placed around the bracket and holds the archwire in place. They are available in different colors. Patients refer to them as “O”s or O-rings.

Headgear: Auxiliary orthodontic equipment that is placed behind the neck or over the top of the head. Our office does not use headgears as the appliance system used achieves the required tooth movement without it.

Hook: A welded or removable arm on which elastics are attached. It is attached to an archwire.

Ligature: A thin wire that holds the archwire into the bracket.

Lip Bumper: A lip bumper is a type archwire fixed to a molded piece of plastic. It holds back the molars on the lower jaw to provide additional space for other teeth. Our office does not use these frequently.

Mouthguard: A device that protects the mouth from injury when the patient takes part in sports and other rigorous activities. An orthodontic mouthguard differs from ordinary mouthguards as it is designed with additional space for the braces. Patients wearing braces are advised against using standard mouthguards since they do not have sufficient space to accommodate the brackets, band, and wires and can, therefore, cause the braces to break.

Palatal Expander: A device that expands or makes the upper jaw wider.

Retainer: An appliance that is worn after the removal of the braces to hold the teeth in place and reduce undesirable changes after the orthodontic treatment. Some retainers can be removed, while others are fixed to the tongue-side of a group of teeth.

Separator or Spacer: A small metal spring or rubber ring that is used to create space between the teeth to enable the bands to be attached.

Tie Wire: A thin wire that is twisted around the bracket and holds the archwire in place.

Wax: Wax is used to prevent the braces from irritating the cheeks, lips, or tongue.

Orthodontic Procedures

Banding: The process of fitting and fixing or cementing orthodontic bands to the teeth.

Bonding: The process of attaching or fixing brackets to the teeth using special orthodontic cement.

Cephalometric X-ray: A head x-ray that shows the relative positions and growth of the jaws, face, and teeth.

Consultation: A meeting with the orthodontist to talk about a treatment plan.

Debanding: The process of removing the cemented orthodontic bands from the teeth.

Debonding: The process of removing the cemented orthodontic brackets from the teeth.

Impressions: The process of creating a model of the teeth by biting into a soft material that hardens and becomes a mold of the teeth. The orthodontist will make use these impressions to prepare the treatment plan.

Invisalign®: An alternative to traditional braces. They are made of clear, almost undetectable plastic. Invisalign straightens teeth with a set of clear, custom-molded aligners. The orthodontist can help decide if Invisalign is a fantastic choice for correcting specific patient’s orthodontic problems.

Ligation: The process by which archwire is attached to the brackets on the teeth.

Panoramic X-ray: An easy-to-take x-ray type. It is created by a sophisticated x-ray machine that moves around the head and then produces a picture that reveals both jaws and all of the teeth apart from some other facial areas. This x-ray type does not need any films to be placed in the mouth, thereby increasing patient comfort.