Appliance: Anything your orthodontist attaches to your teeth to hold or move the teeth or to change the shape of the jaws.

Archwire: A metal wire that joins each attachment cemented to the teeth of one jaw.  This wire is quite regularly changed in the early part of treatment to gradually move the teeth closer to the correct positions.

Band: A thin stainless steel ring with orthodontic attachments soldered or welded to it, which is then cemented around your tooth.

Banding: The process of fitting and cementing orthodontic bands to your teeth.

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

Bonding: The process of attaching brackets to your teeth using orthodontic cement.

Bracket: An orthodontic attachment that is fixed to the teeth (either by “bonding” or “banding”) to hold an archwire in place.  Brackets are usually either metal or ceramic.

Cephalometric X-ray: An x-ray of your head which reveals the relative positions of the teeth and jaws to each other and to the rest of your face.

Clear Bracket: An orthodontic bracket that is a tooth-shaded ceramic or clear synthetic sapphire with little or no metal showing and is less noticeable than the usual metal brackets..

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

Crowding: Dental malalignment caused by a lack of space for the teeth in the jaws.

Debanding: The process of removing cemented orthodontic bands from your teeth.

Debonding:The process of removing cemented orthodontic brackets from 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 the correct positions.

Elastic Ligature: The tiny rubber band that fits around your bracket to hold the archwire in place. They are most commonly grey but do come in a variety of colours.

Forsus appliance: A fixed functional appliance used commonly with braces to help correct molar tooth positions.

Functional Appliance: General term for various types of fixed or removable appliances designed to use muscle pressure to influence teeth and jaws. These are often used in combination with braces to treat malocclusions.

Headgear: A removable orthodontic appliance that applies pressure to the teeth from outside the mouth.

Herbst appliance: A fixed functional appliance used commonly to correct “overbite” problems.

Hook: A small fixed arm to which elastics are attached.

Impressions: The process of making a model of your teeth by biting into a soft material that hardens into a mould of your teeth.

Invisalign®: A series of custom-made thin removable clear plastic appliances that straighten your teeth as a close alternative to braces in many cases.

Ligation: The process of attaching your archwire to the brackets on your teeth.

Malocclusion: Dental term for misaligned teeth and/or jaws – a “bad bite”.

Mouthguard: A soft plastic mouthpiece that protects your mouth and jaws from injury during sports or rigorous activities.

Palatal Expander: An appliance that widens your upper teeth and jaw.

Panoramic radiograph: An x-ray film that shows a wide view of your jaws and all your teeth.

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, while others are cemented to the back of several teeth.

Separator or Spacer: A small rubber ring that creates space between your teeth before metal bands are cemented.

Study Models: The plaster casts of your teeth used by the orthodontist to plan your treatment.

Wax: Thin sticks of soft wax that you may need to squeeze around your braces for a few days at the beginning of treatment if your appliance irritates your lips, cheeks or tongue as you get used to the appliances.

Wire Ligature: A very thin wire that holds your archwire to the brackets.