Bits and Pieces

When you start attending orthodontic appointments to discuss braces or have them fitted, you will soon hear lots of words and jargon that you may not understand. First of all, if you are unsure what you are being told, ask question. Or you can always refer to the list below which gives definitions of some of the most common pieces of equipment used in fitting braces and some of the orthodontic jargon you may hear discussed.


  • Brackets can be made of metal or ceramic and are the pieces that are actually fixed to your teeth with cement while bands are metal rings that fit around the teeth. They are stronger than brackets so are usually put on your back teeth which have to do more chewing.
  • Debonding and debanding are terms you’ll probably enjoy hearing, as they mean the removal of the brackets and bands from your teeth.
  • The archwire is the piece of metal that fits through the brackets and bands and does all the hard work and is fitted to the brackets using elastics or small rubber bands. It is replaced on a regular basis to make sure your teeth continue to move.
  • Lingual or labial refer to where the braces are going to be placed; lingual at the rear next to the tongue and labial at the front next to the lips.
  • Retainers can be removable or fixed and are the final part of your treatment, worn to prevent relapse – the return of your teeth to their original position.


  • Most orthodontists are good at explaining procedures to patients in terms they will understand, but you may occasionally hear a word you don’t understand. Some of the most common jargon associated with braces follows:
  • Class 2 or Class 3 refers to the position of your teeth, the former being more commonly known as an “overbite” and the latter as an “underbite”.
  • Malocclusion simply means a bad bite; that your teeth are somehow out of position. You may need to undergo other treatment prior to having your braces fitted, such as interproximal reduction or an extraction. The first is a process whereby teeth are thinned down by removing a thin layer of enamel, to allow bands to fit easier.
  • Extraction is the technical term for having a tooth removed.
  • Ligature may sound more like something out of a medical drama, but it is just the scientific name for the elastics, another name for the rubber band used to fix the archwire to the brackets and bands.