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Orthodontics Dictionary

Parts of Braces

  • Appliance: Anything your orthodontist attaches to your teeth that moves your teeth or changes the shape of your jaw.
  • Archwire: The metal wire that acts as a track to guide your teeth as they move. It is changed periodically throughout treatment as your teeth move to new positions.
  • Band: A metal ring that is cemented to your tooth by going completely around it. They provide a way to attach brackets to your teeth.
  • Bond: The seal created by orthodontic cement that holds your appliances in place.
  • Bracket: A metal or ceramic part cemented (or “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 a new position.
  • Elastic Tie: The tiny rubber band that fits around your bracket to hold the archwire in place. They come in a variety of colors.
  • Headgear: An appliance that 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. The force is applied to the facebow by a spring-loaded neck strap or head strap. The straps have a safety release that disconnects if the facebow is pulled or snagged.
  • Headgear Tube: A round, hollow attachment on your back bands where the inner bow of your headgear fits into.
  • Hook: A welded or removable arm to which elastics are attached.
  • Ligature: A thin wire that holds your archwire into your bracket.
  • Lip Bumper: 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.
  • Mouthguard: A device that protects your mouth from injury when you participate in sports or vigorous activities.
  • Palatal Expander: A device that makes your upper jaw wider.
  • Retainer: An appliance that is worn after your braces are removed that attaches to your upper and/or lower teeth to hold them in place. Some retainers are removable, while 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: A material that is used to stop your braces from irritating your lips.

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.
  • 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: 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 that 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.
  • Panoramic X-Ray: An X-Ray that rotates around your head to take pictures of your teeth, jaw, and other facial areas.