Orthodontic Dictionary

ALASTIC TIE: A tiny rubber band that may or may not be necessary to hold in the archwire. They come in every color imaginable.

APPLIANCE: Not a refrigerator…an orthodontic appliance may be removable or fixed. It is a device that moves your teeth or changes the shape of your jaw.

ARCHWIRE: The wire that runs along all of your brackets. This wire is changed periodically as you advance through treatment.

BAND: A metal bracket that fits all the way around your tooth like a ring. These are sometimes used on molar teeth.

BOND: The method by which your braces are fixed or cemented to your teeth.

BRACKET: A metal or ceramic part that is bonded to your tooth. The bracket acts as a handle for the archwire to move your teeth.

CEPHALOMETRIC X-RAY: A diagnostic image of your head used by the doctor to measure the angle of your teeth and jaws.

COIL SPRING: A spring may be used to open or close a space between teeth. The spring is held by the archwire.

CONSULTATION: An appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment options and objectives.

DAMON: A particular brand of brackets that are self-ligating. This means no alastics or ligatures are required to hold in the archwire.

DEBANDING/DEBONDING: The removal of orthodontic appliances and placement of retainers.

ELASTIC: A rubber band that is used to improve your bite. Wearing your elastics as instructed will help you finish your orthodontics faster and with better results.

INVISALIGN: A particular brand of clear removable trays used in place of braces.

INSIGNIA: A particular brand of custom made braces.

HEADGEAR: Some bites require a headgear. The type most commonly used at Robinson + Ries is worn just at night by young children who have underbites. This type of headgear resembles a catchers face mask.

HOOK: A fixed or removable part for attaching elastics.

IMPRESSION: The making of a mold of the teeth for study or appliance fabrication.

LIGATURE: A lightweight wire that may be used in place of alastics to hold your archwire in place. If the twisty end of your ligature is ever poking, you may use the eraser end of a pencil to tuck it away.

LIP BUMPER: A lip bumper is an appliance that is used to make space for children that have very crowded lower teeth. Wearing a lip bumper can help patients avoid the need for extraction of permanent teeth.

MOUTHGUARD: A removable appliance worn over your braces to protect your teeth during sports activities. You may purchase these at most sporting goods stores.

PALATAL EXPANDER: An appliance for growing children who have a cross bite or too narrow of an upper arch. This appliance can help patients avoid the need for extraction of permanent teeth by gently widening the upper palate.

PANORAMIC X-RAY: An image used for diagnostic purposes which shows all of your teeth at once.

RETAINER: A fixed or removable appliance that keeps your teeth in their new perfect position. Remember, as we grow older, our teeth move and our body sags. So you should only wear your retainer as long as you would like your teeth to stay straight. 

SEPARATOR: Also known as a spacer, a separator is a small rubber ring that slides between the teeth, making room for orthodontic bands.

WAX: Wax may be used orthodontic appliances are rubbing. Remember to call our office if you have a pokey wire.



“My experiences at Robinson and Ries are always excellent. The office environment is professional, skilled, and focused on patient care and comfort. Everyone in the office goes out of their way to help patients. As a very non-traditional adult patient, I have continually been impressed with all of the people who work with Dr. Robinson. Employees are informative, answer all my questions, and are friendly, outgoing, and very helpful. I drive over 200 miles round-trip for my appointments and it is well worth it! I would recommend these doctors to anyone seeking exceptional orthodontic care in a friendly and professional

~ Susan Shoaff-Ballanger