Orthodontics Dictionary

We have provided a glossary of common terms that are used in orthodontic treatment. If you ever have a question about what an appliance or technique is called, feel free to check here. You can also contact us for more information. Dr. Kenneth Banasiak and Dr. Roger Nettune, our skilled orthodontists, will be happy to help.

Parts of Braces

Appliance: Any part or piece of equipment that our orthodontists attach to your teeth, or anything that aids in the process of moving your teeth or jaw.

Archwire: A wire that is used as a guide to help move your teeth into the desired position. The archwire is changed occasionally during treatment as your teeth move into alignment.

Band: A circle of metal that wraps completely around your teeth and is cemented into place. This is one way to attach a bracket to the tooth.

Bond: Orthodontic cement that has hardened, holding your appliances in position.

Bracket: a part made of ceramic or metal that is attached to your tooth and maintains the position of the archwire.

Coil Spring: A spring that wraps around the archwire between two brackets and gently pushes the teeth apart, creating more space.

Elastic (Rubber Band): Small, stretchy bands that are looped through different points on your appliance to apply directional pressure and help the teeth move into alignment.

Elastic Tie: A rubber band that secures the archwire to the bracket; comes in a wide array of fun colors.

Hook: An arm designed to hold elastics that is either removable or bonded onto a bracket.

Ligature: A fine wire that wraps around a bracket to secure the archwire.

Lip Bumper: This appliance, an archwire wrapped in plastic and attached to the molars on either side of the jaw, surrounds the outside of the teeth without touching them. It creates more room for crowded teeth by using the natural pressure of your lips and cheeks to push the molars back.

Mouthguard: also called a bite guard, this plastic device is used to protect the teeth and orthodontic appliances during recreational activity and sports.

Palatal Expander: A metal device that is placed on the back upper teeth and palate to expand the size of the upper jaw for improved bite alignment and function.

Retainer: Designed to maintain tooth alignment after braces have been removed, this device can be removable or bonded to the inside (tongue side) of the teeth to hold the upper and/or lower teeth in place.

Separator or Spacer: A stretchy rubber donut that is placed around a tooth to create space before a band is attached.

Tie Wire: also called a ligature tie, this fine piece of wire is twisted around a bracket to secure the archwire.

Wax: Soft, moldable wax that can be applied to brackets and wires to minimize irritation and make rough areas feel smoother.

Orthodontic Procedures

Banding: The act of attaching orthodontic bands to the teeth.

Bonding: Using orthodontic cement to attach brackets to the teeth.

Cephalometric X-ray: A radiographic image of your head that reveals the relative location and development of your face, jaws, and teeth.

Consultation: An appointment with the orthodontist in which you discuss your needs and goals and develop a customized treatment plan.

Debanding: Removing the bonded bands from the teeth, typically done toward the end of treatment.

Debonding: Removing the brackets and cement attached to teeth, typically done toward the end of treatment.

Impressions: A mold made of the teeth and oral structures, created by biting into a soft, putty-like substance that gradually hardens. This impression will be used to develop a customized treatment plan.

Invisalign®: A removable series of custom-made, clear teeth aligners that can gradually shift the teeth into a new position. A popular alternative to braces that is effective for some but not all patients.

Ligation: Placing an archwire on the brackets of the teeth and securing it in place.

Panoramic X-ray: A radiographic image that takes pictures all around the head to form a comprehensive photo of your teeth, jaw, and other facial structures.