Orthodontic Terms Mt Airy, MD

Arch Wire

The part of your braces which actually moves the teeth. The arch wire is attached to the brackets by small elastic donuts or ligature wires. Arch Wires are changed throughout the treatment. Each change brings you closer to the ideal tooth position.


Brackets are the “Braces” or small attachments that are bonded directly to the tooth surface. The brackets are the part of your braces to which the dentist or assistant attaches the arch wire. Braces are one of the orthodontic services we offer to the public.

Occasionally, a bracket may come loose and become an irritation to your mouth. You can remove the loose bracket and save it in an envelope to bring to the office. Call the office as soon as possible and make an appointment to re-glue the bracket.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)

At some time during treatment, it may be necessary to wear elastics to coordinate the upper and lower teeth and perfect the bite. Once teeth begin to move in response to elastics, they move rapidly and comfortably. If elastics (rubber bands) are worn intermittently, they will continually “shock” the teeth and cause more soreness. When elastics are worn one day and left off the next, treatment slows to a standstill or stops.

Sore teeth between appointments usually indicate improper wear of headgear or elastics or inadequate hygiene. Wear your elastics correctly, attaching them as you were told. Wear elastics all the time unless otherwise directed. Take your elastics off while brushing. Change elastics as directed, usually once or twice a day.


Often called a “night brace”, the headgear is used to correct a protrusion of the upper or lower jaw. It works by inhibiting the upper jaw from growing forward, or the downward growth of the upper jaw, or even by encouraging teeth to move forward by
promoting the downward growth of the upper jaw, or even by encouraging certain teeth to move depending on the case.


Poor positioning of the teeth.

Types of Malocclusion

Class I
A Malocclusion is where the bite is OK (the top teeth line up with the bottom teeth), but the teeth are crooked, crowded, or turned.

Class II
A Malocclusion is where the upper teeth stick out past the lower teeth.

Class III

A Malocclusion is where the lower teeth stick out past the upper teeth. This is also called an “underbite”.


The alignment and spacing of your upper jaw and lower teeth when you bite down.

Types of Occlusion:

  • Openbite: Anterior opening between upper and lower teeth.
  • Overbite: Vertical overlapping of the upper teeth over the lower.
  • Overjet: Horizontal projection of the upper teeth beyond the lower.
  • Crossbite: When top teeth bite inside the lower teeth. It can occur with the front teeth or back teeth.

O Rings

O rings, also called A-lastics, are little rings used to attach the archwire to the brackets. These rings come in standard gray or clear but also come in a wide variety of colors to make braces more fun. A-lastics are changed at every appointment to maintain good attachment of the arch wire to the bracket, enabling our patients to enjoy many different color schemes throughout treatment.

Dental SeparatorSeparator

A plastic or rubber donut piece that the dentist uses to create space between your teeth for bands.

Invisalign Attachments

Small, tooth-colored bumps that are bonded to your teeth using dental composites. The attachments may all be shaped differently and are placed at precise locations to give the aligners extra grip on the teeth as they move them into position.