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Parts of Braces/Glossary

parts_of_braces1Appliance

Anything that is attached to your teeth that moves your teeth or corrects you bite.

Archwire

A wire engaged in orthodontic attachments, affixed to the crowns of two or more teeth and capable of causing or guiding tooth movement.

Band (Orthodontic)

A thin metal ring, usually stainless steel, which serves to secure orthodontic attachments to a tooth. The band, with orthodontic attachments welded or soldered to it, is closely adapted to fit the contours of the tooth and then cemented into place.

Bond

A seal that is created by orthodontic cement that attaches the appliance to your tooth.

Bracket

An orthodontic attachment that is secured to a tooth (either by bonding or banding) for the purpose of engaging an archwire. Brackets can be fabricated from metal, ceramic or plastic.

Ceramic Brackets

Crystalline, alumina, tooth-shade or clear synthetic sapphire brackets that are aesthetically more attractive than conventional metal attachments.

Coil Spring

The coil spring fits between brackets and over the archwire.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)

Used to move teeth in prescribed direction (commonly connected to molar band and upper ball hook).

Elastic Tie

A small rubber band that is placed around each bracket to hold the archwire in place. Found in numerous colors for better appearance.

Headgear

Generic term for extraoral traction (attached around the back side of the head) for growth modification, tooth movement and anchorage.

Headgear Tube

Attached to the back molar bands, this round hollow tube is where you place the inner bow of your headgear.

Hook

Small attachments on the brackets used to attach elastics (rubber bands).

Ligature

Used to hold an archwire in place, a ligature is made of thin wire.

Lip Bumper

A wire on the lower jaw that extends from one molar to another and keeps lips and cheeks from touching your teeth. When you move your mouth or speak, your lips and cheeks push on the bumper, and the bumper applies pressure to the teeth. This pressure pushes the molars back, creating more space for overcrowded teeth.

Mouthguard

A mouthpiece that is tailored to provide protection to the braces and teeth while the patient is playing a sport.

Palatal Expander

Attached to the upper molars through bonding or by cemented bands, the palatal expander is used to create a wider space in the upper jaw.

Retainer

Any orthodontic appliance, fixed or removable, used to maintain the position of the teeth following corrective treatment.

Separator (Spacer)

Small elastics that fit snugly between certain teeth to move them slightly so bands can be placed around them later

Tie wire

A very small, thin wire that is twisted around a bracket to hold the archwire in place

Wax

Patients are instructed to place wax over a bracket or poking wire that is causing irritation to the lip or cheek.

Orthodontic Procedures

Banding

Cementing orthodontic bands to the teeth.

Bonding

Cementing orthodontic brackets to the teeth.

Cephalometic X-ray

An X-ray that depicts the relative growth of your face, jaws and teeth.

Consultation

Usually the first visit with an orthodontist where you discuss potential treatment options.

Debanding

The removal of cemented orthodontic bands.

Debonding

The removal of cemented orthodontic brackets.

Impressions

Made by biting into a soft substance that will later harden into a mold of your bite. Impressions help the orthodontist diagnose your orthodontic needs and create a customized treatment plan made specifically for you.

Invisalign®

A modern alternative to traditional braces, the Invisalign system straightens your teeth using a series of clear, customized removable appliances called aligners. Invisalign can correct some orthodontic problems, but not severe problems.

Ligation

Attaching an archwire to the brackets.

Panoramic X-ray

A full-head X-ray taken by a machine that rotates 360 degrees around your head. This X-ray shows your face, jaws and teeth.