Still have questions?
We would be happy to explain any orthodontic terms for you. Just contact us over email or phone, or book a free consultation with our team to ask us in person!
We understand it may feel overwhelming to learn all the new terms at the start of your orthodontic treatment. For your easy reference, we’ve compiled a list of commonly used orthodontic words and phrases to help you efficiently navigate your smile journey!
An orthodontic appliance is a dental device that is made to move your teeth or correct your bite. It can be either removable or fixed to your teeth like conventional braces.
Archwires are special orthodontic wires used to connect the brackets of braces together. They help to guide the direction of tooth movement.
Orthodontic bands are thin metal rings (usually made of stainless steel) that secure orthodontic attachments to the teeth.
Brackets are small orthodontic attachments secured to your teeth (made of metal, plastic, or ceramic). These brackets hold the archwire against each tooth and are a main component of treatment with braces.
Ceramic brackets hold the same function as traditional metal brackets (see above) but are made from clear or tooth-colored ceramic for a subtler look.
Orthodontic chains aren’t made from metal, but elastic. These elastic chains hold the archwires onto the brackets during treatment with braces.
A coil spring is a small metal spring we sometimes place over the archwire of your braces. This helps to make more space between the teeth by pushing them apart.
Debanding is the removal of cemented orthodontic bands.
Elastics are tiny rubber rings that tie the archwire onto the brackets of your braces. You can even customize the color of your elastics during treatment!
A fixed retainer is a thin piece of wire bonded to the back side of the front teeth to keep them in their new positions after treatment.
A habit appliance is designed to prevent thumb or finger sucking habits.
Headgear is an orthodontic appliance attached to the patient’s head used for growth modification, tooth movement, and anchorage.
The Herbst appliance is a fixed or removable appliance commonly designed for overbite problems.
Impressions are imprints or molds of the teeth used to design an orthodontic treatment plan. At Mattingly & Howell Orthodontics, we can make digital impressions of your smile with our cutting-edge scanner!
Also known as early treatment, interceptive treatment helps correct abnormal bites and guide the jaw growth of children ages 6-10. It can help prevent the need for more extensive treatment in the future.
This orthodontic treatment method is a virtually invisible alternative to traditional metal braces. It uses Invisalign® clear aligners to straighten your smile instead of brackets or archwires.
A lingual appliance is an orthodontic appliance fixed to the interior (tongue) side of the teeth.
The Mara appliance is an orthodontic appliance that helps correct overbites by positioning the patient's lower jaw forward.
The term “maxillary” pertains to the upper jaw (since a maxilla is a bone that forms your upper jaw). It may also be used to describe teeth, dental restorations, orthodontic appliances, or facial structures.
A mouthguard is a mouthpiece that is designed to protect the braces and teeth during sports.
A palatal expander is an orthodontic device used to create a wider space in the upper jaw. It is attached to the upper molars through bonding or by cemented bands.
A radiograph is a permanent image (typically on film) produced by ionizing radiation. It’s sometimes called an x-ray after the most common source of image-producing radiation.
Retainers are customized devices (fixed or removable) that maintain the position of the teeth following corrective treatment. They may be made of wires or clear plastic.
Separators are small elastics that fit snugly between molars to move them slightly so bands can be placed around them later.