The Anatomy of Braces

Braces have come a long way in the 3,000 or so years that they have been in use. Here is a quick look at some of the more common pieces and parts that make up the anatomy of braces.


This is the general term for anything part of the braces that corrects your bite or repositions your teeth.


This is thin ring (usually made out of stainless steel) that wraps around—following the tooth’s contours—and is cemented to the molars or premolars. Designed to add strength, it  serves as an anchor point to which other orthodontic appliances such as hooks, lip bumpers and headgear tubes are welded.


Made from different materials, it also comes in different gauges. It is attached to the brackets (by ligatures). This adjustable and malleable wire is what creates the force that realigns the teeth.


This is the portion of the braces that are bonded with cement to the tooth’s surface or attached to a band. Brackets can be on the front or back (lingual) of the teeth. The archwire is then connected to the bracket in a slot.


This is what holds the archwire into the bracket. It can be a small elastic band or small portion of twisted wire.

Buccal Tube

Welded to the molar band, the slots in this appliance can serve as a holding place for the archwire, headgear facebow, lip bumper or any appliance that your doctor might need to move your teeth.


These are exactly what they sound like. The are little hooks on certain brackets that elastics loop around.

Elastics (or Rubber Bands)

Attached to the hooks on the top and bottom molar brackets and/or bands, this is the rubber band synonymous with braces. Its purpose is to help move teeth into the direction your orthodontist has determined.

Elastic Ties

Unlike the larger rubber bands, these tiny rubber rings are one of the means of attaching the archwire to the bracket and hold it in place. They come in a variety of different colors.

Power Chain

This is a connected string of elastic o-rings that are attached to the brackets, which both hold the archwire and reposition the teeth.

Coil Spring

There are two types, open and closed, that go over the archwire and are positioned between brackets. It’s purpose is to maintain spacing for teeth that are coming through or one that has fallen out.


This is the generic term for several different types of appliances that are worn outside of the mouth. The appliance will work in conjunction with braces to correct certain types of malocclusions and guide jaw growth when braces are unable to accomplish it alone.

Our experienced and friendly doctors at Orthodontic Associates will educate you as to any and all appliances and procedures, that will give you that confidence and perfect smile. Choose from any of the nine convenient locations around Baltimore to schedule your initial consultation.

We look forward to making you smile!


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