Orthodontics Dictionary

We have assembled a list of common terms in our orthodontics dictionary below. During your visit to the orthodontist you may notice there are a variety of words and terms used when explaining certain items and procedures. Many patients will ask their orthodontist what the words may mean, while others may feel too shy to ask, which can cause confusion. Knowing the meanings of these words will allow you to feel more comfortable during your next visit to your orthodontist. You will also see many of these terms used when browsing our website.


Any item attached to your teeth and used to change the shape of your jaw or move your teeth.


A wire that is affixed to the crowns of two or more teeth which guide tooth movement.


A stainless steel metal ring that secures attachments to a tooth.


A seal that holds orthodontic appliances in place and is created out of orthodontic cement.


A fixed orthodontic appliance comprised of bands, wires and brackets.


A metal, plastic or ceramic bracket that is secured to a tooth.

Cephalometric X-Ray

An X-Ray that shows the alignment of the teeth and jaw.


A plastic chain that is stretchable and used to hold brackets and archwires.

Coil Spring

A spring that fits between brackets and over the archwire.


An office visit with your orthodontist where your treatment plan is discussed in depth.


Teeth that are misaligned due to inadequate space.

Damon Bracket

A passive self-ligating brace that requires no tightening.


Removal of cemented brackets that have been adhered to teeth during orthodontic treatment.

Elastic Rubber Band

A small elastic band that is used to adhere to points on appliances in order to move teeth into their proper position.

Elastic Tie

A small rubber band that is used to hold the archwire in place by fitting around the bracket.


The removal of problematic or impacted teeth.


A fibrous tissue that surrounds the teeth that is continuous with the mucosal covering and periodontal ligament.


An appliance that provides traction for modification and tooth movement and is worn outside of the mouth.

Headgear Tube

The hollow, round attachment of the inner bow that headgear fits into.

Herbst Appliance

A removable or fixed appliance that is used to correct overbite issues.


A device that allows a ligature, elastic or spring to become attached to it, acting as an anchor.


A process that allows the orthodontist to acquire two or three dimension representations of structures.


A material that hardens and creates a mold of teeth.


A wire that is thin and holds the archwire into the bracket.


A term used to describe directions and surfaces towards the tongue.

Lingual Appliances

A fixed appliance used on the lingual surface of the teeth.

Lip Bumper

An archwire that is attached to a molded piece of plastic and is mounted on buccal tubes on the lower jaw. It is commonly used to push molars on the lower jaw back in order to create more space for other teeth.


A term used to describe upper jaw dental restorations, facial structures, teeth and orthodontic appliances.


A device used to guard your mouth and prevent injury.

Oral Hygiene

Caring for teeth by brushing, flossing, using mouthwash and visiting the dentist for regular check-ups to ensure overall oral health.

Orthognathic Surgery

A surgery of the supporting bones and/or teeth.

Palatal Expander

A device used for widening the upper jaw.

Panoramic X-Ray

An X-ray that provides the orthodontist with a view of your jaw and teeth, by using a machine that rotates around the head.


The overlapping of the upper teeth.


A removable or fixed appliance that is used to maintain the correction of teeth.


Tiny springs or rubber bands that are placed between the back teeth, creating a small gap. Commonly used for the placement of a metal band around the molar.

Straight Wire Appliance

An appliance which helps brackets become angulated to minimize multiple archwire bends.

Tie Wire

A thin twisted wire that is placed around a bracket which is meant to hold an archwire in place.


Commonly used to reduce irritation on your cheeks or lips after the placement of braces.


These commonly used words and terms should allow you to easily communicate with your orthodontist. You may refer back to this orthodontics dictionary as we frequently update it. In addition, many orthodontists are happy to explain in greater detail the meaning behind the terms they use.