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Orthodontic Appliances

Glossary of Terms and Techniques

Below is an illustrated glossary with descriptions of some of the most common types of orthodontic appliances used in our practice, listed in alphabetical order. You can also find more information aboust some of these appliances on our Patient Instructions page.

If you have any questions about these and other appliances as they relate to orthodontic treatment and dental health, please do not hesitate to ask!

Braces

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Archwires

Archwires are the main wires that run from one side of the mouth to the other in traditional metal braces. Sometimes we will take a wire out and put a “bend” in it to coax a tooth into another position. Some wires are activated by the temperature of your mouth. You will notice a change when you drink something cool or warm. Warmer temperatures activate the wire, whereas cooler temperatures help relax the wire.

Archwire

Bands

Bands are thin metal rings that are fitted around the back teeth and serve as an attachment for wires or other appliances. Bands

Biteplate

A biteplate is used to correct a deep bite by allowing back teeth to erupt. It should be worn all of the time (except when brushing one's teeth), including mealtime, so that chewing forces are kept off the back teeth.

For additional information, see:
Biteplate Instructions (PDF).

Biteplate

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are made of clear materials and are therefore less visible on your teeth than metal braces. For this reason, ceramic braces are used mainly on older teenagers and adult patients who have cosmetic concerns. While they are visually less prominent, ceramic braces are larger and require more attention to oral hygiene. Ceramic braces tend to be used more on upper-front teeth than on lower teeth.

For additional information, see:
manufacturer’s website.

Ceramic Braces

Distal Jet

A distal jet is usually used with headgear. It really helps to move your back teeth and molars toward the back of your head. The space generated often eliminates the need for tooth removal. Distal Jet

Elastic Ties and Chains

Elastic ties are tiny O-shaped rings used to hold the wires into the bracket slots of the braces. When the O-shaped rings are connected together, they are called “chains.”

This is where you get to choose your colors: purple, teal, neon green, yellow, orange...or red, white, and blue!

For additional information, see:
Instructions for Wearing Elastics (PDF).

Elastic Ties and Chains

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Headgear

Headgear is still the “gold standard” for uncrowding your teeth, reducing protrusion, and restricting upper jaw growth. Using headgear helps reduce the need for permanent tooth removal.

Headgear works by gently pulling back on your molars. You don’t wear it to school, only at home. The more you wear your headgear, the faster your teeth will move.

For additional information, see:
Headgear Instructions (PDF).

Headgear

Herbst Appliance

The Herbst appliance is used to encourage the forward growth of a lower jaw that is too short relative to the upper jaw by gently guiding and holding the lower jaw forward. It can create an improved facial appearance as the chin grows forward to balance the facial profile.

For additional information, see:
Herbst Appliance Patient Guidelines (PDF).

Herbst Appliance

Holding Arches

A holding arch is a passive appliance that preserves space for teeth by preventing undesirable drifting of teeth. It is cemented in place and not removable by the patient. Holding Arches

Invisalign®

Some of our patients are good candidates for Invisalign. Invisalign uses a series of invisible, removable, and comfortable aligners that no one can tell you’re wearing. Because these invisible aligners are removable, you can eat and drink what you want while in treatment. Furthermore, brushing and flossing are no problem. The aligners are comfortable to wear, because they have no metal parts to cause mouth abrasions during treatment.

You wear each set of aligners for about 2 weeks, removing them only to eat, drink, brush, and floss. As you replace each aligner with the next in the series, your teeth will move — little by little, week by week — until they have straightened to their final position.

For additional information, see:
manufacturer’s website.

Invisalign

Lip Bumper

A lip bumper is used to gain space in the lower arch. Molars are moved back, incisors are advanced, and arches are widened. It sits behind the lip, usually at the level of the gumline, so they are not visible when worn. The lip bumper can be removed for sports, music, and toothbrushing.

For additional information, see:
Lip Bumper Instructions (PDF).

Lip Bumper

Low-friction Braces

Friction slows down orthodontic treatment. These braces reduce the friction between the wire and brackets. This allows us to move teeth more rapidly than with a conventional fixed brace.

Once fitted, these braces need fewer adjustments, so appointments are generally further apart, making orthodontic treatment less disruptive of your lifestyle.

For additional information, see:
manufacturer’s website.

Low-friction Braces

Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces — and they are more comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth using metal brackets and archwires.

For additional information, see:
Introduction to Braces (PDF).

Metal Braces

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••• N – Z •••

Palatal Expander

The palatal expander appliance “expands” (widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. We will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to make sure your upper jaw width is maintained.

For additional information, see:
Palatal Expander Instructions (PDF).

Palatal Expander

Retainers

Retainers may be removable or fixed. They hold your teeth in their new, correct positions after your teeth have been straightened. We will instruct you on how to care for your retainer. Wearing your retainer will prevent your teeth from going back to the way they were before treatment.

For additional information, see:
Instructions for Retainers (PDF).

Retainers

Sagittal Appliance

The sagittal is a removable appliance that gains space by advancing the upper front teeth.

For additional information, see:
Sagittal Appliance Instructions (PDF).

Sagittal

Separators/Spacers

Separators are little rubber bands or metal springs that may be placed between your teeth to push them apart, so that orthodontic bands may be placed around your teeth comfortably. The separators will be removed before we attach the bands.

For additional information, see:
Instructions for Separators (PDF).

Separators/Spacers

Temporary Anchorage Device

A temporary anchorage device (TAD) or microscrew implant is one of the most recent orthodontic techniques. A small screw is placed in the bone of the jaw and serves as an anchor for tooth movement. This screw, which is easily placed and removed, permits movements that were previously impossible, either because of the direction of tooth movement needed or the undesirable effects of using other teeth as an anchor. With this minimally invasive technique, large spaces can be closed, tipped teeth can be uprighted, impacted teeth can be brought down, and open bites can be closed. Temporary Anchorage Device

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“A mouth without molars is like a mill without a millstone; and a tooth is worth a treasure.”

— Miguel de Cervantes
Don Quixote

  Capital Region Braces  
Specialists in Orthdontics

in Upstate New York

Burnt Hills

518.384.0416

Clifton Park

518.383.5457

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