Glossary of Your Braces – What Does Each Part Do?


Dr. Ryan Caudill and Dr. Angela McNeight want you to “come to terms” with braces (well, if you need them). That’s why they collected a glossary of braces terms here for you! We’re sure you know some of them, and the terms also collectively explain how traditional braces work to align the jaws and teeth.


We will define brackets first, as they are one of the most important and recognizable parts of braces. Traditional braces use brackets, which are small, square-shaped pieces, that are adhered to the tooth surface with clear glue. They serve as guides to move the teeth, and hold the archwire that we will describe later. Brackets are available in two different materials, metal and ceramic (clear).

Rubber Bands

These are rubber bands, attached to hooks on the brackets and connected the upper and lower jaw diagonally. They need to be replaced by the patient 3-4 times a day to maintain their elasticity and function. These are what help us fix your bite.

Arch Wire

Arch wires are made of metal and formed explicitly to fit into the brackets around the mouth. Arch wire adjustments exert pressure on the teeth, and are responsible for the ongoing repositioning of teeth toward proper alignment.


Ligatures are the tiny elastic bands, or wire, that attach the arch wire to the brackets. They can be clear, silver, or colorful. They are replaced at every adjustment appointment.

Coil Springs

These are used to separate, push, pull, or open the space between teeth. They are a coiled piece of metal which applies the pressure needed for some teeth separation.

Power Chains

Also known as a C-chain, this is a continuous elastic chain that wraps around multiple brackets to close space between teeth. They are used to help narrow spaces or stop spaces from opening between teeth. Like elastic ligatures, they are replaced during every adjustment and come in a rainbow of colors.


Braces are the combination of multiple brackets, the wires, and bands. The whole fixed orthodontic system.


Any device, either attached to the teeth or removable, designed to move the teeth, change the position of the jaw, or hold the teeth in their final positions after braces are removed This includes retainers, permanent springs, and space maintainers.

Now that we defined the terms, you will understand the advanced braces that we use at Caudill Orthodontics. We use Innovation® brackets which combine the newest technology with the highest-grade materials available. Our brackets are different because they are “self-ligating.” This means they have a door (or clip) holding a wire into the bracket to ensure that treatment takes the shortest amount of time possible. Other benefits of these advanced brackets include more simple oral hygiene and the ability for the wire to always stay inside the bracket ensuring your treatment isn’t interrupted or delayed.

Whether it’s traditional braces that interest you or our Invisalign® (clear braces) options, you will love our customer service and results! Please review the services that interest you and request an appointment today.

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