Dr. Greenberg from RxSmile Orthodontics in Frisco, Texas provides this list of Orthodontic Braces Terminology to assist you in understanding the different aspects of orthodontic care and appliances.

Braces Terminology

Adjustment: An adjustment of the wires and brackets is needed to help align and postion the teeth. After the wires are bent in a specific way to move the teeth, there is usually an immediate feeling of tightness, followed by soreness about 4-6 hours later (lasting 2-4 days).

Appliance: Anything the orthodontist attaches to your teeth to move your teeth or to change the shape of your jaw.

Archwire: A metal wire which is attached to your brackets to move your teeth. It is like the engine that guides and moves the teeth to proper position.

Band: A stainless steel ring that is placed around the teeth to anchor an appliance or secure an archwire to the molars.

Bracket: A stainless steel or ceramic piece commonly referred to as braces. They are attached to the teeth using a special orthodontic bonding agent.

Chain: A long elastic band which fits around each bracket. Chains are used to close any gaps in the teeth.

Facebow (Headgear): Facebows are wire apparatus used to move your upper molars back in your mouth which creates room for crowded or protrusive anterior teeth. Generally, the headgear consists of two metal parts which have been attached together. The inner part is shaped like a horseshoe. This part goes in your mouth and is connected to your buccal tubes. The outer part has two curves. The curves go around your face and connect to the breakaways, or high pull headgear. To properly use the product, the inner bow needs to be inserted into your buccal tubes. An elastic neck band is placed around the back of the neck, while the triangular cast-offs on both sides of the neck band are attached to the outer bow of the headgear. Completing the apparatus is a plastic safety strap that is placed over the neck band and onto the outer bow of the headgear.

Dental Impressions: 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.

Ligating Module: Very small circular rubber bands that are used to hold the arch wires to the brackets on your teeth.

Lip Bumper: To avoid pulling teeth, lip bumpers are used for those patients who need to create more room for their crowded teeth. The lip bumper is a wire on the lower jaw that extends from one molar to another and keeps lips and cheeks from touching your teeth. When you move your mouth or speak, your lips and cheeks push on the bumper, and the bumper applies pressure to the teeth. This pressure pushes the molars back, creating more space for overcrowded teeth.

Mouthguard: A device that is used to protect your mouth from injury when you are participating in sports. The use of a mouthguard is especially important for orthodontic patients to prevent injuries.

Palatal Expander: A custom-fitted appliance designed to widen the roof of your mouth (palate).

Retainer: A custom-fitted, removable appliance that is worn after your braces are removed. It helps the teeth maintain their new position after orthodontic treatment. Read about Caring for Retainers.

Spacer: A plastic or metal band which is placed between the molars to create space so the orthodontist can fit a band around the teeth.

Wax: A clear medical-grade paraffin-based wax is used to soothe and prevent any irritation caused by the braces.

If your dentist has recommended braces for your child or yourself, Dr. Greg Greenberg suggests these Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Orthodontist that will help you better understand orthodontic care.

Our team goal at RxSmile Frisco orthodontics office with Dr. Greg Greenberg is to provide highly personalized and comprehensive orthodontic care for our families in the Frisco-Plano metropolitan area. If you have questions about braces and would like to make an appointment with our orthodontist, Dr. Greg Greenberg, please call 972-335-1300 (Monday through Thursday) or submit an online appointment request and we will respond within one business day.