While wearing braces, you will hear some new words and phrases being used. The following is a short list that defines what some of those phrases and words mean. You can always check with any Ladera Orthodontics team member if you are not completely sure what something means. We love questions and truly enjoy educating our patients.
The anatomy of braces
Appliance: This is something the orthodontist either attaches to the teeth or in some cases it may be removable. They are designed to move the teeth, change the shape of the jaw, or retain what we have (like retainers). Examples are habit appliances, holding arches and expanders.
Archwire: This is the wire acting as a track that guides the teeth while they move. It is changed periodically during treatment when the teeth move into new positions. They come in many shapes, sizes, and materials.
Band: The bands are just metal rings cemented to molars and premolars. They surround tooth completely. We don’t use these that much these days in modern orthodontics. At Ladera Orthodontics, we mainly use bands when we’re using an appliance that’s cemented to the teeth (see “appliance” above), which is somewhat rare. It’s easier and cleaner for the patient to use just regular brackets on those molars and premolars.
Bond: We use this term when we’re getting ready to place a bracket or brackets. The bond is actually a seal that is created by special orthodontic cement that holds braces and appliances in place.
Bracket: Brackets are either ceramic or metal and it’s what is bonded or cemented to the tooth that holds the archwire to that moves the teeth.
Coil Spring: A Coil spring will fit between the brackets and over top of the archwire to close or open spaces between teeth.
Elastics or rubber bands: Elastics are hooked between points or hooks on the appliances/braces providing pressure in order to move the teeth into the new positions. Usually the patient will place and remove these themselves, daily.
Elastic Ties: The Elastic ties are rubber bands that are fitted around the brackets to hold the main archwire. They come in a rainbow of colors and are used only in traditional metal or ceramic braces.
Headgear: Headgear is the use of an external wire apparatus that is called a facebow. It is designed to guide the growth of the jaw and face gently while moving the teeth into the proper positions. Gentle force is applied by a spring-loaded head or neck strap. There is a safety release that will disconnect if the facebow has been snagged or pulled. They are not commonly used these days because there are now easier ways to accomplish this correction.
Headgear Tube: The headgear tube is a hollow, round attachment on the back molar bands that will hold the inner bow of the headgear in place. In some cases, these are slid onto the main archwire now to help with bite correction as needed.
Hooks: Elastics will be attached to these hooks. It could be a removable or welded arm, depending on what brace system you select.
Ligature: Thin wires holding the archwire in the bracket.
Ligature wire: A fine wire twisted around the bracket that holds the archwire in its place.
Lip Bumper: A larger diameter archwire that is attached to a custom molded piece of rubber, acrylic, or plastic. It holds the back molars of the lower jaw and provides extra space for the other teeth. It uses the strength of the lower lip to push or maintain the position of the lower molars.
Mouthguards: They protect the mouth from being injured during rigorous activity, especially with contact sports.
Palatal Expander: An appliance that widens the upper jaw.
Retainers: These are appliances that are worn after the braces are removed. They fit over lower and/or upper teeth holding them in their new positions. Sometimes, retainers are bonded on the inside/tongue side of the teeth.
Spacer or Separator: These are tiny rubber rings used to create space between teeth before bands are attached.
Wax: Silicone or wax is used to protect the cheeks and lips from trauma.
Here are some of the more common techniques your orthodontist will use:
Banding: Fitting and cementing bands on the teeth.
Bonding: Attaching brackets to the teeth with the use of a special cement.
Cephalometric X–ray: X-ray of the head showing relative positions, plus the growth of teeth, jaws, and face.
Consultation: Meeting with Dr. Gire or Dr. Salmassian to discuss your treatment plan.
Debanding: Removing cemented bands from the teeth.
Debonding: Removing cemented brackets from the teeth.
Impressions: A model of the mouth created by biting down into a soft material. The material later hardens and becomes mold of the teeth. The orthodontist uses these impressions in the preparation of the treatment plan. Now, impressions are very rarely used anymore since we have the Itero scanner. It provides a series of pictures all stitched together, like a panorama.
Invisalign®: An alternative to wearing traditional braces. Invisalign straightens teeth with a unique series of custom-molded clear aligners. Invisalign corrects many, but not every, orthodontic problem.
Ligation: Attaching the archwire to brackets on the teeth with clear or colored ties.
Panoramic X–ray: X-ray taken by rotating around the head to create images of the jaw, teeth and facial areas. Digital x-rays are used exclusively at Ladera Orthodontics, so exposure to radiation is minimized as compared to the traditional x-rays.