orthodontic terms

'reel'y common words and
phrases you might hear

appliance

Anything your orthodontist attaches to your teeth which moves your teeth or changes the shape of your jaw.

 

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 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 ("bonded") to your tooth that holds your archwire in place.

hook

A welded or removable arm to which elastics are attached.

ligature

A thin wire that holds your archwire into your bracket.

mouthguard

A device that protects your mouth from injury when you participate in sports or rigorous activities.

palatal
expander

A device that makes your upper jaw wider.

coil spring

A spring that fits between your brackets and over your archwire to open space between your teeth.

elastic

A small rubber band that is hooked between different points on your appliance 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.

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 bonded to the tongue-side of several teeth.

separator /
 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.

wax

Wax is used to stop your braces from irritating your lips.

parts of braces

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.

panoramic
x-ray

An x-ray that rotates around your head to take pictures of your teeth, jaw, and other facial areas.

debanding

The process of removing cemented orthodontic bands from your teeth.

consultation

A meeting with your orthodontist to discuss a treatment plan.

ligation

The process of tying your archwire to your brackets
or bands.

invisalign®

An alternative to traditional braces, Invisalign straightens your teeth with a series of clear custom-molded aligners. Invisalign can correct some, but not all, orthodontic problems.

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 fabricate appliances or retainers for your teeth.

debonding

The process of removing cemented orthodontic brackets from your teeth.

orthodontic procedures

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