Learn About the Different Parts of Your Hillsborough Braces

Welcome to Clifton & Mauney Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry! When you’re spending time with our Hillsborough & Durham orthodontist to improve your smile, we want to make sure you understand your treatment with braces. That’s why we’ve put together the following orthodontic glossary.


Anything worn in your mouth like braces or aligners that’s involved in straightening your teeth and/or improving your bite.


A wire that is crucial in guiding tooth movement with braces. The wire attaches to each bracket on the braces and connects all the brackets together.


A thin metal ring typically made of stainless steel that is designed to secure orthodontic attachments to a tooth. A band fits the contours of the tooth and is cemented into place.


Made from either metal, ceramic, or plastic, this is an attachment that is secured to a tooth to attach to an archwire.

Ceramic brackets

These are clear brackets made of a translucent ceramic material to make treatment discreet.


A chain made of elastic that is used to hold the archwire onto the brackets.

Coil spring

A spring that fits between the brackets on braces and over the archwire to open space between the teeth.


The process in which your Hillsborough orthodontist removes the cemented orthodontic bands from your teeth.


Small rubber bands available in several colors that are used to tie the archwire into the brackets.

Fixed retainer

A permanent retainer that is bonded to the backside of the teeth to prevent the teeth from moving back into their original positions after treatment with braces has ended.

Habit appliance

An appliance used to help break a thumb or finger sucking habit.


An extraoral or ‘outside the mouth’ appliance used to influence growth, move teeth, and to provide anchorage. Headgear is attached around the backside of the head.

Herbst appliance

A fixed or removable appliance that is used to treat overbites and other problems.


An imprint or mold of the teeth used by your Durham orthodontist to plan your treatment.

Interceptive treatment

Also known as early treatment, interceptive treatment is typically performed between the ages of six and ten. This phase of treatment makes future treatment faster and less invasive.

Lingual appliances

Orthodontic appliances bonded to the lingual or tongue-side of the teeth.

MARA appliance

A growth appliance used to treat an overbite by positioning the lower jaw forward.


Of or pertaining to the upper jaw. This term can be used to describe teeth, dental restorations, orthodontic appliances, or facial structures.


A mouthpiece that is designed to be worn over the teeth to protect the teeth and braces from harm when playing sports.

Palatal expander

An orthodontic appliance that is attached to the upper molars to create a wider space in the upper jaw.

Radiograph (X-ray)

A permanent image, typically on film that is produced by ionizing radiation.


An orthodontic appliance that is either fixed or removable, that’s worn after braces to prevent the teeth from shifting back into their original positions.


Also called a spacer, a separator is a small elastic that fits snugly between teeth to move them slightly so bands can be placed around the teeth later.


Special orthodontic wax that is placed on a rubbing bracket or poking wire to ease discomfort.

Questions? Contact Clifton & Mauney

If you have any questions about any of the terms in our glossary, please feel free to contact us for the answers you need. We enjoy educating our orthodontic patients so they better understand how their treatment with braces works! If you’re looking for a great provider of braces in Hillsborough or Durham, we’d love for you to choose us as we offer quality, personalized treatment to patients of all ages. Just request an appointment today and leave the rest up to us!