Ortho Dictionary

Parts of Braces


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


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.


A metal ring that is cemented to your tooth and goes completely around your tooth. Bands provide a way to attach brackets to your teeth.


The seal created by orthodontic cement that holds your appliances in place.


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 Tie (Colors)

The rubber band that fits around your bracket to hold the archwire in place. They come in a variety of colors.


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.


A welded or removable arm to which elastics are attached.

Ligature (steel tie)

A thin wire that holds your archwire into your bracket.


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.


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 and others are bonded to the tongue-side of several teeth.

Rubber Band (elastics)

A small rubber band that is hooked between different points on your appliance to provide pressure to move your teeth to their new position.

Separator (or Spacer)

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


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


A small white rubber like tube used to bite on to help seat your Invisalign aligner.

Tooth Attachments

Attachments may be bonded to one or more teeth during the course of Invisalign treatment to help facilitate tooth movement and aligner retention.

Carrier Distalizer

An appliance placed approximately 6 months prior to the start of your Invisalign aligners. This appliance helps correct overjet.

Lower Lingual Holding Arch

An appliance that is placed to aid in the crowding of the lower arch as the patient is growing into permanent dentition.


A medication we prescribe when completing bonding procedures to help dry salvia. This medication should be taken 90 minutes before the appointment.

Forsus Appliance

A appliance placed when a patient is in traditional metal braces that helps move the teeth back in the mouth. This appliance helps correct overjet.

Orthodontic Procedures


The process of fitting and cementing orthodontic bands to your teeth.


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.


The process of removing cemented orthodontic brackets and bands from your teeth.


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.


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


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.

Treatment Conference

A meeting with your orthodontist to discuss a treatment plan.