Orthodontics Dictionary

Parts of Braces

  • Appliance - Anything your orthodontist attaches to your teeth or uses to move your teeth or change the shape of your jaw.
  • Archwire - The metal wire that acts as a track to guide your teeth along as they move. It is changed periodically throughout treatment as your teeth move to their new positions.
  • Band - A metal ring that is cemented to your tooth and goes completely around your tooth. Bands provide a way to attach brackets to your teeth.
  • Bond - The seal created by orthodontic adhesives that holds your appliances in place.
  • Bracket - A metal or ceramic part cemented ("bonded") to your tooth that holds your archwire in place.
  • Coil Spring - A spring that fits between your brackets and over your archwire to open space between your teeth.
  • Elastic (Rubber Band) - A small rubber band that is hooked between different points on your appliance to provide pressure to move your teeth to their new position.
  • Elastic Tie - The rubber band that fits around your bracket to hold the archwire in place. They come in a variety of colors.
  • Hook - A welded or removable arm to which elastics are attached.
  • Ligature Wire - A thin wire that holds your archwire into your bracket.
  • Mouthguard - A device that protects your mouth from injury when you participate in sports or rigorous activities.
  • Palatal Expander - A device that makes the upper jaw wider.
  • Retainer - An appliance that is worn after your braces are removed, the retainer attaches to your upper and/or lower teeth to hold them in place. Some retainers are removable and others are bonded to the tongue-side of several teeth.
  • Separator (or Spacer) - A small rubber ring that creates space between your teeth before the bands are attached.
  • Tie 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.

Orthodontic Procedures

  • Banding - The process of fitting and cementing orthodontic bands to your teeth.
  • Banding - The process of attaching brackets to your teeth using special orthodontic adhesive.
  • Cephalometic X-ray - An x-ray of your head which shows the relative positions and growth of the face, jaws, and teeth.
  • Consultation - A meeting with your orthodontist to discuss findings and treatment recommended.
  • Debanding - The process of removing orthodontic appliances from your teeth.
  • Impressions - The process of making a model of your teeth 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.
  • Invisalign® - 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.
  • Scanning - The process of capturing a digital impression using a scanner, which does not require impression material.
  • Panoramic X-ray - An x-ray that rotates around your head to take pictures of your teeth, jaw and other facial areas.
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Jeffery Biggs, Orthodontist
Vincent Hansen, Orthodontist