Orthodontic Dictionary

Appliance: Tool your orthodontist attaches to the teeth which to move your teeth or change the shape of your jaw. Patients may need one or a combination of orthodontic appliances such as elastics, headgear or an expander.

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 completely around your tooth, to 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: Removable 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. Orthodontists prescribe the amount of time to wear headgear per day based on the severity of the case.

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 worn after your braces are removed; it attaches to the 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.

Separators or Spacers:  Small rubber circles wedged between the backteet to create 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 biting into a soft material that hardens into a mold of your teeth. Your orthodontist will use these impressions to prepare your treatment plan.

Invisalign®: Alternative treatment to traditional braces using clear custom-molded aligners.  Invisalign can correct some, but not all, orthodontic problems.

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.

Positioners:   The positioner is an elastic device used after removal of the braces; it resembles a sports mouthpiece. Imprints of the teeth are in the positioner and are arranged in as perfect a bite as possible to guide the teeth into their final ideal placement. It is often used to complete treatment, sometimes shortening the time that other appliances must be worn.

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