Common orthodontic terminology
Ready to start your orthodontic journey but don’t know the terminology? Check out our guide to common orthodontic terms.
The part of your braces that actually moves the teeth. The arch wire is attached to the brackets by small elastic donuts or ligature wires. Arch wires are changed throughout treatment, and each change brings you closer to ideal tooth positioning.
Brackets are small attachments that are bonded directly to the tooth surface. The brackets are the part of your braces to which the dentist or assistant attaches the arch wire.
Occasionally, a bracket may come loose and become an irritation to your mouth. You can remove the loose bracket and save it in an envelope to bring to the office. If a bracket becomes loose, call the office as soon as possible and make an appointment to re-glue the bracket.
At some time during treatment, it will be necessary to wear elastics to coordinate the upper and lower teeth and perfect the bite. Once teeth begin to move in response to elastics, they move rapidly and comfortably. If elastics (rubber bands) are worn intermittently, they will continually cause more soreness. When elastics are worn one day and left off the next, treatment slows to a standstill or stops altogether. Sore teeth between appointments usually indicate improper wear of headgear or elastics or inadequate oral hygiene. Wear your elastics as instructed by your orthodontist. Take your elastics off while brushing. Change elastics as directed, usually once or twice a day.
Often called a night brace, headgear is used to correct a protrusion of the upper or lower jaw. It works by inhibiting the upper jaw from growing forward, or the downward growth of the upper jaw, or even by encouraging teeth to move forward.
Poor positioning of the teeth.
The alignment and spacing of your upper jaw and lower teeth when you bite down.
O rings, also called A-lastics, are little rings used to attach the arch wire to the brackets. These rings come in a wide variety of colors to make braces more fun. A-lastics are changed at every appointment to maintain good attachment of the arch wire to the bracket, enabling patients to enjoy many different color schemes throughout treatment.
A plastic or rubber donut piece that the dentist uses to create space between your teeth for bands.