Getting braces comes with a whole dictionary worth of new words to learn. Don’t get overwhelmed. These are the most common terms you’ll hear at the orthodontist, and what they mean.
Braces: Metal brackets, bands, and wires that straighten your teeth. Braces are attached to the teeth, so they are not easily removable.
Spacers: Small plastic rings fitted between your back teeth before your braces are attached. Spacers create space between your teeth to optimize the alignment your braces provide.
Retainers: Plastic or metal item that holds teeth in their finished position after your braces come off. A Hawley retainer is the most common type of retainer; it features an acrylic plate that rests against the roof of your mouth and a wire crossing in front of your teeth. Essex retainers are quite popular, as they are durable and nearly invisible.
Bite plates correct a deep bite, where the upper front teeth come down too far over the lower front teeth to cause bite problems.
Holding arches prevent the back teeth from moving forward to crowd the front teeth. A lower lingual holding arch prevents your permanent molars from migrating forward. The Nance holding arch maintains space between teeth after you lose baby teeth and before the permanent teeth come in.
A palatal expander widens your upper jaw by separating the bones of your palate. This appliance helps your top and bottom teeth fit together better. The Quad Helix widens your jaws to create more room for crowded teeth.