Glossary of Orthodontic Terms

Appliance
A device an orthodontist fastens to the patient’s teeth which can move the position of teeth or align the jaws.

Archwire
A wire that fits into the brackets and the bands, which produces a force to straighten the teeth.

Band
A thin ring of metal cemented to teeth, which orthodontic attachments can be attached to.

Bond
Orthodontic adhesive to hold the brackets in place.

Bracket
A metal, plastic, or ceramic piece that is attached onto a patient’s tooth. They contain a groove, which is for an archwire.

Cephalometic X-ray
An X-ray done for the purpose of viewing a patient’s bones of the head, jaw, and face to view the alignment of the teeth and jaws.

Coil Spring
A spiral part that is fitted to the brackets and the archwire. It creates space between the teeth it is attached to.

Consultation
A meeting held with an orthodontist to assess the condition and to discuss the treatment required for the problem.

Debanding
The process of the removal of the orthodontic bands from a patient’s mouth.

Debonding
A process in which brackets are removed from the patient’s teeth.

Elastic (Rubber Band)
A stretchable band that can be hooked to braces and provide a force to reposition the teeth correctly.

Elastic Tie
The small rubber band used to secure the archwire by fitting it around the bracket. Elastic ties are available in a wide variety of colors.

Headgear
An orthodontic appliance that restricts jaw growth and helps to correct bite problems. It is a removable appliance and is worn by aid of a strap which is fitted around the head or the neck.

Headgear Tube
A hollow tube attachment of the headgear to which the inner bands are fitted into.

Hook
An orthodontic appliance that helps to create an anchor for elastics and coil springs. Hooks are often connected to the archwire or bands.

Impressions
The process of making a mold of a patients teeth by placing trays filled with alginate into a patients mouth. The alginate quickly hardens and an imprint of the patients teeth is obtained. Stone is then poured into the impressions to create study models, which are a duplication of the patients teeth. The treatment plan of the patient is made after close studying of these models.

Invisalign
Custom-molded clear aligners used instead of braces to straighten teeth. The removable aligners can only be used to correct specific problems and cannot be used on all patients.

Ligation
The process in which the archwire is secured to the brackets by means of elastic.

Ligature
An elastic loop or thin wire required for holding the archwire to the bracket.

Lip Bumper
A piece of plastic or wire that is fixed to the molars on the lower jaw that helps push them back to create room for other teeth. It is made up of the archwire and a molded piece of plastic. The main purpose of the lip bumper is to move the molars back and the incisors forward. When a patient talks or eats, pressure is applied to the plastic part of the lip bumper and pushes it back which in turn pushes the molars back.

Mouthguard
An orthodontic device worn when playing sports to protect the mouth and teeth from injury. It is vital for people in orthodontic treatment to wear a mouthgaurd to minimize the chances of injury.

Palatal Expander
An orthodontic device applied to the upper jaw to widen it.

Panoramic X-ray
An X-ray made to obtain a two dimensional image of a patient’s jaws, teeth, and other facial parts. The orthodontist takes the X-ray by a rotating machine which revolves around the patient’s head.

Retainer
An orthodontic appliance attached to the lower and/or upper teeth. It is worn to retain the corrected position of the teeth after the braces are removed. Retainers can be either fixed or removable. Retainers ensure that none of the teeth move to their previous positions and remain properly aligned while the gum tissues and bone adjust to the corrected position.

Separator or Spacer
A plastic or metal component used by an orthodontist to create small spaces between a patient’s teeth for proper attachment of the bands to the teeth.

Tie Wire
A thin wire warped around the bracket to firmly secure the archwire to the bracket.

Wax
Orthodontic wax is applied to the braces or the archwire to prevent irritation to the cheek and/or the tongue.