Orthodontists’ Favorite Terms Defined

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Throughout your orthodontic treatment, you may hear your orthodontists refer to different parts of your braces that you had no idea even existed. Some terms may be familiar and some may sound like an entirely different language. It is important to know what these terms mean so that you can be the most efficient in your dental hygiene practices with your braces.

Appliance: anything that is attached to your teeth that moves your teeth or corrects your bite

Archwire: the main wire that weaves through brackets and guides teeth and direction of the movement of the teeth.

Bands: a ring of metal that fits around the molars and/or premolars. The bands are supposed to fit tight and are sealed using a form of dental cement containing fluoride.

Bond: a seal created by orthodontic cement that attaches the appliance to your tooth

Brackets:  a bracket is attached to the tooth to hold the archwire in place. They also help to engage the archwire.

Ceramic Brackets: crystalline, alumina, tooth-shade or clear synthetic, sapphire brackets are aesthetically pleasing and more than conventional metal attachments

Coil Spring: fits between the brackets and over the archwire

Headgear: attached around the back side of the head for growth modification, tooth movement, and anchorage

Hooks: small attachments on the brackets to attach elastics securely onto brackets

Lip Bumper: a wire on the lower jaw that keeps lips and cheeks from touching your teeth, applying pressure to the teeth when you move your mouth or speak, creating more space for overcrowded teeth

Palatal Expander: used to create a wider space in the upper jaw

Retainer: any orthodontic appliance, fixed or removable, used to maintain the position of the teeth following corrective treatment

Separator (spacer): small elastics that fit snugly between certain teeth to move them slightly so bands can be placed around them later

Tie Wire: a small, thin wire that is twisted around a bracket to hold the arcid

Next time you go to the orthodontist, you will know what he or she is saying to you and you won’t have to smile and nod any longer.