Ortho Dictionary

Parts of Braces


  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • Headgear

    Headgear uses an external wire apparatus known as a facebow to gently guide the growth of your face and jaw by moving your teeth into proper position. The force is applied to the facebow by a spring-loaded 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

    A welded or removable arm to which elastics are attached.

  • Ligature

    A thin wire that holds your archwire into your bracket.

  • Lip Bumper

    A lip bumper is an archwire attached to a molded piece of plastic. The lip bumper holds back the molars on your lower jaw to provide more space for your other teeth.

  • 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.

  • 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 or Spacer

    A small rubber ring that creates space between your teeth before the bands are attached.

  • Tie Wire

    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.

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.

  • Consultation

    A 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.

  • Impressions

    The process of making a model of your teeth by placing a soft material in a tray placed in the mouth that hardens into a mold of your teeth. Your orthodontist will use these impressions for any added appliances.

  • Invisalign®

    An alternative to traditional braces, Invisalign straightens your teeth with a series of clear custom-molded aligners.

  • Ligation

    The process of attaching an archwire to the brackets on your teeth.

  • Panoramic X-Ray

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