Why Braces

Your dentist may have discussed with you the benefits of having healthy teeth and proper jaw alignment. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This can result in tooth decay, worsen gum disease and lead to tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints. These can lead to chronic headaches and face or neck pain.


Treatment by an orthodontist can be less costly than the additional care required to treat dental problems arising as a result of orthodontic problems. For most people, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. After your braces come off, you'll feel more self-confident.

It's best for the orthodontist to see children by age 7 to advise if orthodontic treatment is required and the best time for that patient to be treated. The first permanent molars and incisors have usually come in by that time and crossbites, crowding and other problems can be evaluated. When treatment is begun early, the orthodontist can guide the growth of the jaw and guide incoming permanent teeth.


Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, correct thumb-sucking, and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, early treatment can simplify later treatment.


Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age, and adults especially appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile. One of every five patients in orthodontic treatment is over 21. Jaw surgery is more often required for adult orthodontic patients because their jaws are not growing. Adults also may have experienced some breakdown or loss of their teeth and bone that supports the teeth and may require periodontal treatment before, during and/or after orthodontic treatment. Bone loss can also limit the amount and direction of tooth movement that is advisable.

Ortho Dictionary

Parts of Braces

Orthodontic Procedures


Anything your orthodontist attaches to your teeth which moves your teeth or changes the shape of your jaw.



The metal wire that acts as a track to guide your teeth along as they move. It is changed periodically throughout treatment as your teeth move to their new positions.



A metal ring that is cemented to your tooth and goes completely around your tooth. Bands provide a way to attach brackets to your teeth.



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



A metal or ceramic part cemented (“bonded”) to your tooth that holds your

archwire in place.


Coil Spring

A spring that fits between your brackets and over your archwire to open space between 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 their new position.


Elastic Tie

The rubber band that fits around your bracket to hold the archwire in place. They come in a variety of colors.



Headgear uses an external wire apparatus known as a facebow to gently guide the growth of your face and jaw by moving your teeth into proper position. The force is applied to the facebow by a spring-loaded neck strap or head strap. The straps have a safety release that disconnects if the facebow is pulled or snagged.


Headgear Tube

A round, hollow attachment on your back bands. The inner bow of your headgear fits

into it.



A welded or removable arm to which elastics are attached.



A thin wire that holds your archwire into your bracket.


Lip Bumper

A lip bumper is an archwire attached to a molded piece of plastic. The lip bumper holds back the molars on your lower jaw to provide more space for your other teeth.



A device that protects your mouth from injury when you participate in sports or

rigorous activities.


Palatal Expander

A device that makes your upper jaw wider.



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 and others are bonded to the tongue-side of several teeth.


Separator (or Spacer)

A small rubber ring that creates space between your teeth before the bands are attached.


Tie Wire

A fine wire that is twisted around your bracket to hold the archwire in place.



Wax is used to stop your braces from irritating your lips.


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



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


Cephalometic X-ray

An x-ray of your head which shows the relative positions and growth of the face, jaws,

and teeth.



A meeting with your orthodontist to discuss a treatment plan.



The process of removing cemented orthodontic bands from your teeth.



The process of removing cemented orthodontic brackets from your teeth.



The process of making a model of your teeth by biting into a soft material that hardens into a mold of your teeth. Your orthodontist will use these impressions to prepare your treatment plan.



An alternative to traditional braces, Invisalign straightens your teeth with a series of clear custom-molded aligners. Invisalign can correct some, but not all, orthodontic problems.



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


Panoramic X-ray

An x-ray that rotates around your head to take pictures of your teeth, jaw and other

facial areas.


 American Association of Orthodontists™

  American Board of Orthodontists

Invisalign  Invisalign®

Sonicare  Sonicare®

Colgate  Colgate

Crest  Crest


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