Orthodontic Terminology

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We understand that a trip to the orthodontist can be overwhelming, so once we start discussing the more complicated aspects of your appointment it can be a lot to process. We’ve broken down some of the common terms that you might hear during your appointment.


When we need to ensure that gaps are closed, we can use C-chains. These sit on the brackets and apply a stronger force than wires and brackets alone. So when we want to speed up the process whilst ensuring that your teeth align properly, we place C-chains on.


Archwires are a significant component of your braces, they connect the brackets and bands and align your teeth. They can be flexible and allow us to control how your teeth align. We bend them and shape them to move your teeth to the desired positions


An expander can create more space in the mouth for those who have a narrow upper jaw. This is often a process that we go through with young children, correcting the issue before it becomes a significant problem. The expander is a custommade appliance that is fitted to the roof of the mouth. Expanders can also improve crossbites, overcrowding and may even reduce the need for jaw surgery. 


Patients may often need some extra assistance to help fix a bite or close gaps. Elastics connect to the brackets and can go between the upper and lower jaws. Each patient is different, so how you may wear your elastics will depend on your teeth and braces journey.

Retainers (fixed or removable)

Even after your braces journey, your teeth will need reinforcing. This is assisted with retainers. Retainers may be worn for the rest of your life to ensure that your teeth remain beautiful and straight, because no matter how long you had braces for, your teeth will eventually shift back towards their original position. Retainers can be fixed or removable. Fixed retainers are wires that get placed behind your teeth – usually on the bottom teeth, but often on the upper front teeth also. Removable retainers (plates or thin clear “mouthguards”) should be worn as much as possible for as long as possible. These are customized to suit your mouth and teeth.


Separators may be applied before braces are applied. They are small elastics placed between the back teeth to slightly separate the teeth to create space for metal bands to be placed around the molar teeth to anchor the braces.


Staining can occur whether you have braces or not, and often comes down to diet and dental hygiene. When it comes to cleaning your teeth with braces you need to ensure that you get into the trickier spaces. We can educate you on the best way to go about that. It’s also important to avoid over-consuming sugary food and drinks such as soft drink and lollies. If you don’t care for your teeth during the time that you have braces you will find that once the brackets are removed stains are left and you’ll be left with bracket shaped stains!


Just like a new pair of shoes can rub on your heel, and you put a Band-Aid on to prevent a blister, braces can be uncomfortable when you first have them applied. Wax is used to cover the brackets and protect your cheeks from getting aggravated and causing cuts or ulcers. The wax isn’t permanent and will come off with brushing and eating, so be sure to reapply. 


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