Orthodontics Dictionary

Not sure what a certain term means? We have a full list of terms related to parts of braces, as well as orthodontic treatment. If you have questions about your treatment, do not hesitate to contact us.

Parts of Braces

  • 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, going completely around it. Bands are usually placed on the back teeth.
  • Bond: The seal created by orthodontic cement that holds your brackets in place.
  • Bracket: A metal or ceramic part cemented, (“bonded”), to your tooth that holds your archwire in place.
  • Chain Elastic: Several elastic ties connected together that stretch from the back of the mouth to the front of the mouth.
  • 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 from the upper to lower jaw to provide pressure to move your teeth to their 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: Headgear uses an external wire known as a facebow to gently guide the growth of your face and jaw by moving your teeth into the proper position. The force is applied to the facebow by a 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. The inner bow of your headgear fits into it.
  • Hook: An attachment that is on your bracket to which elastics are attached.
  • 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.
  • Permanent Retainer: A wire that is bonded to the tongue-side of several teeth on the upper and/or lower jaw.
  • 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, while others are permanent and 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.
  • Wire Tie: A fine wire that is twisted around your bracket to hold the archwire in place. Wire ties are often twisted around several teeth at the same time. Teeth with wire tires often do not have colored elastic ties.
  • Wax: Wax is used to stop your braces from irritating your lips or cheeks.

Learn more about braces.

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 which shows the relative positions and growth of the face, jaws, and teeth.
  • Debanding: The process of removing orthodontic bands or 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.
  • Panoramic X-ray: An x-ray that rotates around your head to take pictures of your teeth, jaw, and other facial areas.
  • Photographs: Pictures of the face and teeth your orthodontist will use to prepare your treatment plan.

Learn more about surgical orthodontics.