Blog Post

Parts of Braces


Congratulations on beginning orthodontic treatment and starting your journey toward a smile that you will be proud to show off! As you move forward, it is important that you know the names of the parts of your braces in case you need to describe any problems or questions to our team. So, what are the main terms you need to know? Depending on what type of braces you chose, the terminology will vary some.

What are the main parts of braces?

First, the square pieces that are bonded on each tooth are called brackets. Brackets can be made of stainless-steel metal or tooth colored ceramic and are usually put on the outside of each tooth. If you have lingual braces, the brackets are placed on the inside of your tooth. Brackets are like handles and allows us to hold on to the teeth to move them.

Second, bands are stainless steel metal rings that go around your back molars. Bands serve as a foundation for the archwire as the wire connects to a small attachment on the outside of the band. A dental cement is used to connect the band to the tooth so that it does not fall out while eating. Bands will be removed when your treatment is complete.

Next, the archwire (or just wire) is the long, skinny piece of stainless-steel that connects all bracket and bands together. The thickness of archwires can be different depending on the level of movement needed for each case. Your orthodontist will determine which type of wire is best for your stage in your treatment. The wire is the part that does most of the work to align your teeth.

Ligatures (also called o-rings and sometimes elastics) are the tiny rubber bands that are placed around each bracket to keep the archwire in place. Ligatures can come in all colors, including gray and clear. Our team will use a tool to stretch the ligature around your bracket and we will usually change these out at each appointment. If you have self-ligating brackets, you will not have ligatures. A power (or energy) chain elastic is a row of ligatures connected to look like a chain. This type of elastic is used to help close spacing in teeth.

Last, elastics or rubber bands are small, safe rubber bands used to connect the top row of teeth to the bottom row. They are stretched around hooks that come off your brackets. These come in fun colors and clear. You will be given a small bag of them because you will change them out often. It is important to wear your rubber bands as directed so that you can get your braces off on time.

Broken braces or other issues?

We recommend following all instructions given by Dr. Jolley to avoid breaking any parts of your braces. It is important to avoid specific foods and biting into hard surfaces. Remember that anytime something breaks, your treatment is slightly delayed. However, we understand that accidents can happen! What do you do if a bracket comes off or wires break? Keep all pieces that may fall off and put them in a baggie to bring them to your next appointment. Next, give us a call or send us a message describing what happened as best as you can. We will then give you more instructions and schedule a time for you to come in if needed. Dr. Jolley and the Jolley Orthodontics team do all we can to get you back on track as soon as possible.