Orthodontic Glossary

Knowing that our patients understand their orthodontic treatment is very important to the team and doctors at BracesBracesBraces. To help you expand your knowledge, here are some key words and phrases associated with braces, orthodontic treatment and orthodontic procedures. If one of our orthodontists or staff members uses a term or explanation that you do not understand, always feel free to ask! We’ll be happy to clarify for you.

Glossary of Terms

Appliance: Anything your orthodontist attaches to your teeth to move them or adjust the shape of your jaw.

Archwire: The metal wire that goes through your brackets. It is changed periodically throughout treatment, acting as a track to guide your teeth as they move.

Band: The metal ring that is cemented around your tooth, providing a way to attach brackets to your teeth.

Banding: The process of fitting and cementing orthodontic bands to your teeth.

Bond: The seal created by orthodontic cement that holds your appliances in place.

Bonding: The process of attaching brackets to your teeth using special orthodontic cement.

Bracket: The metal or ceramic part of the braces that is bonded to your tooth. Brackets hold your archwire in place.

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

Coil Spring: A spring that sometimes is placed between your brackets and over your archwire. This helps to open space between your teeth.

Consultation: The initial 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.

Elastic (Rubber Band): The rubber band that is hooked between different points on your appliance. The elastic provides pressure to move your teeth to a new position.

Elastic Tie: The tiny rubber band that fits around your bracket. These hold the archwire in place and come in a variety of colors.

Headgear (facebow): Headgear is an external wire apparatus that gently guides the growth of your face and jaw via your teeth. A spring-loaded neck strap or head strap applies force, but can also be disconnected with a special release if the facebow is pulled or snagged.

Headgear Tube: A round, hollow attachment on your back bands that is made to fit the inner bow of your headgear.

Hook: The arm that elastics are attached to.

Impressions: A mold of your teeth that your orthodontist will create in order to determine your orthodontic treatment plan.

Invisalign®: A series of clear, custom-molded aligners that can sometimes straighten teeth as an alternative to traditional braces. Your orthodontist will let you know if your problems can be corrected with Invisalign®.

Ligation: The process of attaching the archwire to your brackets.

Ligature: The thin wire that holds your archwire into your bracket.

Lip Bumper: An archwire attached to a molded piece of plastic that holds back the molars on your lower jaw to provide more space for your other teeth.

Mouthguard: A device that protects your mouth and braces from injury, to be used when playing sports.

Palatal Expander: A device that widens your upper jaw.

Panoramic X-ray: An X-ray that rotates around your head, taking pictures of your teeth, jaw, and face.

Retainer: An appliance that is worn after your braces are removed to keep your teeth from moving. Retainers can either be removable or bonded to the inside of teeth.

Separator (or Spacer): A small rubber ring that creates space between your teeth to help your orthodontist attach your bands.

Tie Wire: The thinner wire that is twisted around your bracket to hold the archwire in place.

Wax: A take-home substance you can use to keep your braces from irritating your lips or gums.