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Parts of Braces: An Orthodontic Glossary

Parts of Braces: An Orthodontic Glossary

Parts of Braces: An Orthodontic GlossaryThere are many parts to the braces that are designed to straighten teeth. In this glossary you'll find the terms and definitions of some of the most common components. If you have any questions, or if you believe you're a candidate for braces in Gilbert or braces in Mesa, or any of the surrounding Arizona communities, be sure to contact Macdonald Orthodontics.


Anything your orthodontist attaches to your teeth that moves your teeth or changes the shape of your jaw.


The metal wire that acts as a track to guide your teeth as they move. It is changed periodically throughout treatment as your teeth move to new positions.


A metal ring that is cemented to your tooth, going completely around it. Bands provide a way to attach brackets to your teeth.


The seal created by orthodontic cement that holds your appliances in place.


A metal or ceramic part cemented ("bonded") to your tooth that holds your archwire in place.

Coil Spring:

A spring that fits between your brackets and over your archwire to open space between your teeth.

Elastic (Rubber Band):

A small rubber band that is hooked between different points on your appliance to provide pressure to move your teeth to a new position.

Elastic Tie:

The tiny rubber band that fits around your bracket to hold the archwire in place. They come in a variety of colors.


Headgear uses an external wire apparatus known as a facebow to gently guide the growth of your face and jaw by moving your teeth into proper position. The force is applied to the facebow by a spring-loaded neck strap or head strap. The straps have a safety release that disconnects if the facebow is pulled or snagged.

Headgear Tube:

A round, hollow attachment on your back bands. The inner bow of your headgear fits into it.


A welded or removable arm to which elastics are attached.


A thin wire that holds your archwire into your bracket.

Lip Bumper:

A lip bumper is an archwire attached to a molded piece of plastic. The lip bumper holds back the molars on your lower jaw to provide more space for your other teeth.


A device that protects your mouth from injury when you participate in sports or rigorous activities.

Palatal Expander:

A device that makes your upper jaw wider.


An appliance that is worn after your braces are removed, the retainer attaches to your upper and/or lower teeth to hold them in place. Some retainers are removable, while others are bonded to the tongue-side of several teeth.

Separator or Spacer:

A small rubber ring that creates space between your teeth before the bands are attached.

Tie Wire:

A fine wire that is twisted around your bracket to hold the archwire in place.


Wax is used to stop your braces from irritating your lip and cheeks.

The team at Macdonald Orthodontics would be happy to provide further consultation on braces, their components and how they work. To learn more, or to find out if braces are right for your or your children, please call our Mesa orthodontics office at (480) 470-7795 or our Gilbert orthodontics office at (480) 568-1052. We look forward to helping you achieve the smile of your dreams.

Posted: September 2021