Terms to Know



Anything your orthodontist attaches to your teeth which moves your teeth or changes your bite.


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 (orthodontic)

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


A seal that is created by orthodontic cement that attaches the appliance to your tooth.


An orthodontic attachment that is secured to a tooth (either by bonding or banding) for the purpose of engaging an archwire. Brackets can be fabricated from metal, ceramic or plastic.

elastics (rubber bands)

A small rubber band that is hooked between different points on your appliances to provide pressure to move your teeth and jaw to a new position.

Figure 8

A fine wire that is twisted between your brackets to hold spaces closed.

headgear / facemask

Headgear uses an external force to gently guide the growth of your face and jaw by moving your teeth and jaw into the proper position.  The force is applied to the facemask by elastics connected to the appliance in your mouth.


The part of your braces to which the elastics / rubber bands are attached.

ligature tie

A thin wire that holds your archwire into your brackets.


A mouthpiece that is tailored to provide protection to the braces and teeth while the patient is playing a sport.

open coil spring

A spring that fits between your brackets and over your archwire to open space between your teeth.


A small rubber band that is placed around each bracket to hold the archwire in place. Found in numerous colors for better appearance.

palatal expander

Attached to the upper molars through bonding or by cemented bands, the palatal expander is used to create a wider space in the upper jaw.


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.


Wax is used to stop your braces from irritation your lips or cheeks.