Orthodontic lingo can be confusing, especially if you’re a first-time patient. From brackets to wires and elastics to retainers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the terminology you’ll hear in an orthodontic office.
To help you better understand orthodontic lingo, here’s a guide to some of the most commonly used terms.
- Archwire: The archwire is the metal wire that runs through the brackets and helps to move the teeth. The metal is usually stainless steel, but can also be different materials, including titanium, beta-titanium, and nickel-titanium.
- Bite Plate: A bite plate is a custom-made device that fits over the top and bottom teeth and helps to correct an overbite or underbite. It’s usually acrylic and patients wear it for several weeks at a time.
- Brackets: Brackets are small metal or ceramic squares that your orthodontist attaches to your teeth. They are the foundation of your orthodontic treatment and help to guide your teeth into the desired position.
- Elastics: Elastics, or rubber bands, help move the teeth into the desired position. They come in a variety of sizes and colors and go between the upper and lower brackets.
- Headgear: Headgear is a device that moves the upper teeth back into the proper position. It is usually worn while sleeping and is made of metal, plastic, or fabric, and attaches to the back of the head or neck.
- Retainers: Patients use retainers after their orthodontist removes their braces to help the teeth stay in their new position. Retainers are usually either metal or thermoplastic material.
- Separators: Separators are small rubber bands that your orthodontist places between the teeth to prepare them for the brackets. Patients typically wear separators for a few days before they are ready for braces.
Orthodontic lingo can be overwhelming, but understanding the terms can help you feel more confident and informed about your orthodontic treatment. Take the time to familiarize yourself with orthodontic lingo so you can make more informed decisions about your treatment.