While braces are a fairly straightforward concept, there are lots of specific orthodontic terms that can make them a bit confusing. If you’re getting braces in the near future, here are seven basic terms that you’ll probably be hearing a lot of. If you learn them now, you’ll impress your orthodontist and have a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into.
An archwire is the curved wire that connects the brackets of your braces to one another, essentially the mechanism for moving your teeth into their correct positions. The archwire will be gradually adjusted by your orthodontist, which ensures that unnecessary pressure is never applied to your teeth.
Brackets are the small pieces that are attached to the front of your teeth and are responsible for keeping the archwire in place. These are typically made of plastic, metal, or ceramic and care must be cared for to ensure they don’t become loose.
Ligatures ensure that the archwire is securely attached to each bracket. These are typically made of wire or plastic.
- Lip Bumper
A lip bumper is a wire coated in rubber that alleviates pressure put on the teeth by the lips. This ensures that emerging teeth have plenty of room to grow normally. They are usually removable, but orthodontists typically recommend they stay in 24 hours a day.
- Metal Band
Metal bands are rings that are slipped onto your molars near the back of your mouth. These provide extra support and are often used when patients require other headgear in addition to braces. Spacers must be placed on teeth a week before metal bands are put in place to ensure plenty of room for the procedure.
Retainers are an orthodontic device used after your braces have been removed. They ensure that your teeth do not migrate from their correct position. Retainers can either be removable or installed permanently.
- Rubber Bands
These are attached by hooks to the end teeth on both the top and bottom rows. These help move your teeth towards their final, correct position as well as help your jaw retain proper alignment.