There are several terms that orthodontists use on a regular basis that may not be part of your current vocabulary. The following is a short list of some of these terms.

Appliance — we refer to anything that we place in the mouth to move teeth as an appliance. Braces are even sometimes referred to as appliances. Appliances can be fixed to the teeth with bands or adhesives or they can be removable for cleaning and adjustment.

Clear Retainers are used after braces are removed. They are made of a thin clear plastic that is formed exactly to the teeth. These retainers are virtually invisible and are removed only for eating, brushing, and flossing. Clear retainers can also be used for tooth small movements.

Fixed Retainers (Bonded wires) are made of a thin wire adapted to your straight teeth. It is fixed to the inside of the teeth with dental adhesive and may stay in place for a lifetime.

Growth Guidance Appliances are used in growing children to improve the position and relationship of the upper and lower jaws. These appliances can be fixed or removable. Most commonly, these are removable and are designed for upper and lower teeth to have specific places to bite. These are often made of a colored acrylic, much like a traditional retainer.

The most common fixed growth guidance appliance is called the Herbst appliance. This appliance has metal bands fixed to the teeth and is designed to encourage lower jaw growth and improved lower jaw position.

Headgear is used less commonly in our practice but can produce excellent results when reducing overbite is necessary or if the molars need to be moved backward.

Palatal Expander is an appliance used to widen or expand the upper jaw. This is most often used in cases where the upper jaw is narrow in relation to the lower jaw. An expander is also used in cases where there is significant crowding of the teeth and more space is needed. This appliance is fixed to the molar teeth with bands. There are colorful acrylic options for our patients to select from. Expanders work beautifully before individuals reach puberty. After this time, an expander may not fully correct the problem and surgery may be necessary to assist in alignment of the jaws.

Removable Expanders are used to gain space. In our office removable expanders are most often used to gain space for the lower teeth.

Removable Retainers are worn after braces are removed or between Phase I and Phase II treatment. Our younger patients typically have a traditional retainer with a wire and colorful acrylic on the roof of the mouth. All others typically have a clear retainer that fits over the teeth.

Rubber Bands are used commonly to aid in final aligning of the bite while braces are worn. Rubber bands need to be worn as instructed for optimal results.

Reverse Headgear is used to help treat an underbite in a growing child. It helps to pull forward on the upper jaw and push backward on the chin.

Separators are small blue rubber rings placed between teeth to move teeth apart and create a small amount of space. Separators are often used before placing fixed appliances such as a palatal expander.