Orthodontic Terms

  • Appliance

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

  • Archwire

    The main wire that is shaped specifically to fit around the arch into the bracket slots. Teeth move from the pressure that is applied by the braces. That pressure comes from the archwire, which guides the direction of the movement.

  • Attachment

    Used with Invisalign®, attachments are small handles of tooth colored glue that are attached to certain teeth to help the aligners to grip the teeth better when making certain movements.

  • Band

    A band is a thin ring of metal that fits around a molar or premolar and is cemented into place, using dental cement that contains fluoride to help to prevent decalcification during treatment. Bands provide one way to attach brackets to the teeth and are also used as the handles of an expander.

  • Bite Wafer

    A safe substitute for gum, gently chewing on a bite wafer helps to relieve pressure and soreness. Bite wafers come in different flavors. Make sure to clean your bite wafer after every use.

  • Bond

    The seal created by orthodontic adhesive ("glue") that holds your appliances in place.

  • Brackets

    The brackets hold the archwire against each tooth. The archwire fits into a slot in the bracket. Brackets may be attached directly to each tooth or to a band.

  • Buccal Tube

    A type of metal bracket that is rectangular and shaped like a tube. A buccal tube is usually bonded directly to your tooth, but can also be welded to a band which is then cemented to your tooth.

  • Button

    A metal or ceramic part similar to a bracket, but is circular and has no slot. It is bonded to your tooth and allows for movement of the teeth with powerchain, elastic thread, or rubber bands.

  • Coil Spring

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

  • Elastic (Rubber Band)

    An elastic is a tiny rubber ring or band that attaches to specific hooks on the brackets. They are designed to correct the bite. We offer regular or neon colors.

  • Elastic Tie (O-Ring)

    A type of ligature, an elastic tie is the rubber tie that fits around your bracket. With some types of braces, this elastic tie is used to hold the archwire in place. However, with the technologically advanced Physiodynamic® System, colored elastic ties are no longer required, and are just a decoration for fun. Please note that extra cleaning is required, as the elastic ties do collect plaque. Elastic ties come in a variety of colors

  • Expander

    An appliance that makes your upper and/or lower jaw wider. An expander used for the upper jaw is often called a Palatal Expander. Dr. Held uses comfortable, state-of-the art, self-activating expanders that do not require turning at home.

  • Eyelet

    A metal part similar to a bracket, but with a special small hole through which an elastic thread can be placed. It is bonded to your tooth to aid in moving the tooth into place, when it has not erupted enough for a bracket to be placed.

  • Hooks

    Hooks are small attachments on the brackets used to attach elastics (rubber bands).

  • Ligature

    Either a tiny elastic or stainless steel wire tie, which holds the archwire into a bracket. You can choose from countless colors to create your own design! These ligatures can also be made of stainless steel, referred to as “steel ties”.

  • Mouthguard

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

  • Power Chain

    A series of connected elastic ties that stretches along several brackets, pulling the teeth together and closing space.

  • Retainer

    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, and others are bonded to the teeth.

  • Separator (Spacer)

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

  • Turbo

    A glue that is bonded in a special shape to the back of the upper incisors to open the bite.

  • Wax

    A clear wax used to prevent your braces from irritating your lips or cheeks when your braces are first put on, or as needed. Wax works best when the irritating area is dried well first and then, embedded totally within the pea-sized or grape-sized ball of wax.

  • Wire Ligature Tie (Ligature Wire Or Tie Wire)

    A fine piece of wire that is twisted around your brackets to hold the archwire in place.

  • Appliance


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

    Archwire


    The main wire that is shaped specifically to fit around the arch into the bracket slots. Teeth move from the pressure that is applied by the braces. That pressure comes from the archwire, which guides the direction of the movement.

    Attachment


    Used with Invisalign®, attachments are small handles of tooth colored glue that are attached to certain teeth to help the aligners to grip the teeth better when making certain movements.

    Band


    A band is a thin ring of metal that fits around a molar or premolar and is cemented into place, using dental cement that contains fluoride to help to prevent decalcification during treatment. Bands provide one way to attach brackets to the teeth and are also used as the handles of an expander.

    Bite Wafer


    A safe substitute for gum, gently chewing on a bite wafer helps to relieve pressure and soreness. Bite wafers come in different flavors. Make sure to clean your bite wafer after every use.

    Bond


    The seal created by orthodontic adhesive ("glue") that holds your appliances in place.

    Brackets


    The brackets hold the archwire against each tooth. The archwire fits into a slot in the bracket. Brackets may be attached directly to each tooth or to a band.

    Buccal Tube


    A type of metal bracket that is rectangular and shaped like a tube. A buccal tube is usually bonded directly to your tooth, but can also be welded to a band which is then cemented to your tooth.

    Button


    A metal or ceramic part similar to a bracket, but is circular and has no slot. It is bonded to your tooth and allows for movement of the teeth with powerchain, elastic thread, or rubber bands.

    Coil Spring


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

    Elastic (Rubber Band)


    An elastic is a tiny rubber ring or band that attaches to specific hooks on the brackets. They are designed to correct the bite. We offer regular or neon colors.

    Elastic Tie (O-Ring)


    A type of ligature, an elastic tie is the rubber tie that fits around your bracket. With some types of braces, this elastic tie is used to hold the archwire in place. However, with the technologically advanced Physiodynamic® System, colored elastic ties are no longer required, and are just a decoration for fun. Please note that extra cleaning is required, as the elastic ties do collect plaque. Elastic ties come in a variety of colors

    Expander


    An appliance that makes your upper and/or lower jaw wider. An expander used for the upper jaw is often called a Palatal Expander. Dr. Held uses comfortable, state-of-the art, self-activating expanders that do not require turning at home.

    Eyelet


    A metal part similar to a bracket, but with a special small hole through which an elastic thread can be placed. It is bonded to your tooth to aid in moving the tooth into place, when it has not erupted enough for a bracket to be placed.

    Hooks


    Hooks are small attachments on the brackets used to attach elastics (rubber bands).

    Ligature


    Either a tiny elastic or stainless steel wire tie, which holds the archwire into a bracket. You can choose from countless colors to create your own design! These ligatures can also be made of stainless steel, referred to as “steel ties”.

    Mouthguard


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

    Power Chain


    A series of connected elastic ties that stretches along several brackets, pulling the teeth together and closing space.

    Retainer


    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, and others are bonded to the teeth.

    Separator (Spacer)


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

    Turbo


    A glue that is bonded in a special shape to the back of the upper incisors to open the bite.

    Wax


    A clear wax used to prevent your braces from irritating your lips or cheeks when your braces are first put on, or as needed. Wax works best when the irritating area is dried well first and then, embedded totally within the pea-sized or grape-sized ball of wax.

    Wire Ligature Tie (Ligature Wire Or Tie Wire)


    A fine piece of wire that is twisted around your brackets to hold the archwire in place.

    Meet Dr. Held

    Originally from Northern California, Dr. Cheryl L. Held began her orthodontic residency at the Saint Louis University Department of Orthodontics.
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    • 9979 WingHaven Blvd., Suite 200
    • O'Fallon, MO 63368
    • ph. 636.561.5550

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