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Throughout your orthodontic treatment, you may hear your orthodontists refer to different parts of your braces that you had no idea even existed. Some terms may be familiar and some may sound like an entirely different language. It is important to know what these terms mean so that you can be the most efficient in your dental hygiene practices with your braces.

Archwire: the main wire that weaves through brackets and guides teeth and direction of the movement of the teeth.

Bands: a ring of metal that fits around the molars and/or premolars. The bands are supposed to fit tight and are sealed using a form of dental cement containing fluoride.

Brackets:  a bracket is attached to the tooth to hold the archwire in place. They also help to engage the archwire.

Elastics: tiny, colorful elastics used to attach to your braces to your archwire

Headgear: attached around the back side of the head for growth modification, tooth movement, and anchorage

Hooks: small attachments on the brackets to attach elastics securely onto brackets

Lip Bumper: a wire on the lower jaw that keeps lips and cheeks from touching your teeth, applying pressure to the teeth when you move your mouth or speak, creating more space for overcrowded teeth

Mouthguard: a mouthpiece that is tailored to provide protection to braces and teeth while the patient is playing a sport


Next time you go to the orthodontist, you will know what he or she is saying to you and you won’t have to smile and nod any longer.