Ortho Dictionary

Choose a glossary:

Parts of Braces


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


  • The metal wire that acts as a track to guide your teeth as they move. It is changed periodically throughout treatment as your teeth move to new positions.


  • A metal ring that is cemented to your tooth that goes completely around it. 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 (Rubber Band)

  • A small rubber band that is hooked between different points on your appliance to provide pressure to move your teeth to a 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 uses an external wire apparatus known as a facebow to guide the growth of your face and jaw gently 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.


  • 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.


  • 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, 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 is used to stop your braces from irritating your lips. Orthodontic Procedures

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 that shows the relative positions and growth of the face, jaws, and teeth.


  • A meeting with your orthodontist to discuss a treatment plan.


  • The process of removing cemented orthodontic bands from your teeth.


  • The process of removing cemented orthodontic brackets from your teeth.


  • A model of your mouth made 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 some, but not all, 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.