braces in cary nc



Common Orthodontic Terms

Here are some of the most commonly used terms in orthodontics. We define these orthodontic terms to provide you with some background information to help you better understand your orthodontic treatment in Cary, NC.

Choose a Glossary

  • Parts of Braces
  • Orthodontic Procedures

Parts of Braces


Any dental device (either removable or fixed to your teeth) your orthodontist uses to move your teeth or change the shape of your jaw.


A thin, flexible metal wire that has shape memory and acts as a track to guide your teeth as they move to the right position. It is changed periodically throughout your orthodontic treatment as the braces move your teeth to new positions.


A metal ring that goes completely around your tooth and is cemented to it. Bands allow your orthodontist to attach brackets to your teeth. 


The seal that the orthodontic cement creates holds your orthodontic appliances (braces) in place.


The ceramic or metal part that is cemented (“bonded”) to your front and side teeth. They hold your archwire in place and act like handles to move your teeth.

Coil Spring

A spring that fits between your brackets and goes over your archwire. Orthodontists use coil springs to move the teeth and create more space between them or close the space between teeth.

Elastic (Rubber Band)

An elastic material (small rubber band), hooked between different points on your braces to provide pressure to move your teeth or jaws to a new position and help you achieve proper alignment of your bite.

Elastic Tie

The small rubber band that fits around your bracket to keep the archwire in place. They are available in various colors.


Headgear is an orthodontic appliance that uses an external wire apparatus known as a facebow to gently guide the growth of your face and jaw and correct your bite by moving your teeth into the right position. A spring-loaded head strap or neck strap is used to apply the required force to the facebow. These straps have a safety release that disconnects when the facebow is snagged or pulled.

Headgear Tube

A round, hollow device attached to your back bands. Your headgear’s inner bow fits into it.


A removable or welded arm where the elastics are attached.


A thin wire used to hold your archwire in your bracket.

Lip Bumper

This is an archwire attached to a molded plastic piece. The lip bumper holds the molars on your lower jaw back to gain space and create more room for your other teeth.


A removable device worn over the teeth to protect your mouth from injury when participating in sports or rigorous physical activities.

Palatal Expander

A device that widens your upper jaw.


An orthodontic appliance worn after you remove your braces. This device attaches to your lower and/or upper teeth to hold them in place and retain the results you gained from wearing braces. Some retainers are glued to the back of the teeth, while others are removable.

Spacer or Separator 

This is a small rubber ring orthodontists use to create space between your teeth before they attach the bands.

Tie Wire

This is a fine wire that your orthodontist twists around your bracket to hold your archwire in place.


Wax is used to form a protective barrier between braces and the tongue or lips and stop the braces from irritating them.

Orthodontic Procedures


This is the process of fitting and gluing the orthodontic bands to your teeth.


This is the process of gluing the brackets to your teeth using special orthodontic adhesives.

Cephalometric X-ray

This is an X-ray of your head showing the relative positions and growth of your teeth, face, and jaws.


An appointment or meeting with your orthodontist to discuss your orthodontic issue and your treatment plan.


This is the process of removing the glued orthodontic bands from your teeth.


This is the process of removing the glued orthodontic brackets from your teeth.


This is a model of your mouth and teeth. Orthodontists create your teeth impressions by allowing you to bite into a soft material that solidifies to produce a mold of your teeth. These impressions are then used to prepare your treatment plan.


This is an alternative to traditional braces. It uses a series of clear, custom-molded aligners to straighten your teeth. Invisalign is effective for some, but not all, orthodontic problems.


This is the process of fitting an archwire to the brackets on your teeth.

Panoramic X-ray

This is an X-ray that rotates around your head to take the image of your jaw, teeth, and other facial areas.

Want to learn more about orthodontic care in Cary, NC, or the terminologies you may encounter during your orthodontic office visits? Give us a call today at (919) 276-8499, and one of our team members will attend to your needs.

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