During your orthodontic treatment, you will hear many terms that you might not understand.   The following information will help you understand the appliances used during orthodontic treatment and some of the procedures done at the appointment.


Appliance:  Any device used by the orthodontist which moves your teeth or changes the shape of your jaw.

Archwire:  The metal wire that is attached to the brackets to move the teeth.

Band:  A metal ring that is cemented around a tooth (usually a molar).

Bond:  The seal created by using orthodontic cement which holds orthodontic appliances in place.

Bracket:  The metal part that is glued onto the tooth and serves as a means of fastening the archwire. 

Cephalometic x-ray (aka Ceph): An x-ray of the mouth that shows the alignment of the teeth and if they are growing properly.

Coil Spring:  A spring that fits over the archwire and in between the brackets to create space between the teeth.

Consultation:  The initial meeting with the orthodontist and treatment coordinator to diagnosis and discuss treatment and financial options with the patient and responsible party.

Debanding:  The removal of cemented orthodontic bands from the teeth.

Debonding:  The process of removing the orthodontic appliances and cement from the teeth.

Decalcification:  A white spot or white area where the enamel has become scarred.    Patients most often see decalcification after the braces come off, in areas around where the brackets were located and along the gum line.   Decalcification occurs due to poor cleaning, allowing the acid in the plaque to sit on the enamel structure long enough that it starts leeching out the calcium from the enamel and cannot be reversed.  Braces do NOT cause decalcification.

Digital Impressions:  By using a state of the art digital scanner, we are able to produce a digital impression.   The iTero scanner works by taking a series of digital pictures which creates a virtual mold.   No more goopy impressions!

Elastics:  Small rubber bands that hook between different points on appliances, which provides pressure to move teeth into the appropriate position.

Eruption:  The process in tooth development in which the teeth enter the mouth and become visible.  

Gingivitis:  A common and mild form of gum disease that causes irritation, redness and swelling of your gingiva, the part of your gum around the base of your teeth.

Hook:  An appliance that creates an anchor for an elastic, ligature or spring to attach to.

Impacted tooth:  A tooth that gets blocked as it is pushing through the gum into your mouth.

Invisalign:  An alternative to traditional braces, teeth are straightened using a series of clear removable aligners.

Mouthguard:  A device used to protect the mouth from injury while participating in sports.   The use of a mouthguard is especially important for orthodontic patients to prevent injuries.    Shock Doctor has mouthguards made specifically made for orthodontics.   Please follow manufacturers directions for use.

Nitatium Palatal Expander (NPE):  A Nitanium Palatal Expander is a fixed nickel titanium appliance attached to molar bands which will expand the upper arch.  

Panoramic x-ray (aka Pan): An x-ray taken by a machine that rotates around the head to give the orthodontist a complete picture of the teeth and jaws.

Retainer:  The device worn by a patient after the removal of the braces.    The retainer maintains the position of teeth.   If the retainer is not worn as instructed, the patient is prone to the teeth shifting or re-lapse.   

Reverse Headgear:   An appliance worn outside of the mouth to provide traction for growth modification and tooth movement.   This appliance is usually worn at night while the patient sleeps.

Separators (aka Seps):  A small elastic that is usually placed between the molars to create space to allow room for a band to be placed.

Wax:  Orthodontic wax is used to help alleviate discomfort caused by orthodontic appliances.