At Studio32 Orthodontics, we know how important achieving the perfect, healthy smile is for each of our patients. Dr. Mullally, our Gainesville orthodontist, is committed to providing excellent orthodontic care while helping you achieve the smile you deserve. This orthodontics glossary can help you become familiar with some of the most common orthodontic terms so you can stay informed throughout treatment.

Contact us today to learn more about Gainesville orthodontics and to schedule an orthodontic consultation.

Kid With Braces In Gainesville, FL

Orthodontic Terminology

The following orthodontic appliances are mainstays during orthodontic treatment with braces and Invisalign®. For more information about the elements used in your unique treatment plan and to learn more about the importance of orthodontic treatment for your oral health, contact us.

Orthodontic Appliances

An orthodontic appliance is any dental device or piece fabricated specifically for the treatment of orthodontic issues that moves or retains the teeth during treatment or alters the positioning of the jaw. Appliances can be fixed, functional, or removable. There are many different types of appliances used to treat a wide range of issues, including crooked teeth, crowded teeth, jaw irregularities, and even snoring and sleep apnea, among other orthodontic conditions.


An archwire is the metal wire that connects brackets in braces. It is called an “arch wire” because the top teeth comprise the top arch and the bottom teeth comprise the bottom arch. The archwire guides the teeth into their new alignment. This wire is replaced periodically throughout treatment and exists in a wide range of sizes, strengths, and springiness.

Molar Band

Orthodontic bands, also known as molar bands, are rings that are custom-fitted around and cemented to the back teeth (molars) during orthodontic treatment. These metal bands are typically made of stainless steel, and they secure orthodontic brackets to the teeth by providing a solid anchor to the archwire that runs along the span of the braces.


An orthodontic bond is characterized as the seal produced by orthodontic cement that holds fixed orthodontic appliances, such as metal brackets, and attaches them to the teeth. Bonding (the process of attaching brackets to the teeth using a special dental adhesive) may be performed with tooth-colored bonding adhesive for aesthetic purposes.


Brackets are small metal or ceramic pieces that are cemented or bonded to the teeth. Brackets serve as a guide to move the teeth, and they hold the archwire in place. Modern orthodontic technology produces brackets that are smaller and lighter than ever before, providing superior comfort and a less conspicuous appearance.

Power Chains

A c-chain, also referred to as a power chain or energy chain, is an orthodontic appliance characterized by a series of connected, elastic o-rings that are placed around each bracket to move the teeth and hold the archwire in place, closing the spaces between teeth. They are typically made from the same material used on the ligatures, but they may likewise be made from metal twists instead of an elastic material.

Coil Spring

Coil springs are devices that adjust spacing and crowding issues. They can be used to push teeth apart or draw them together, based on the patient’s needs. An open coil spring slides into the archwire and sits between two brackets, exerting an outward force in order to create space between the teeth. A spring that is generally placed between brackets and over the archwire to create space between the teeth.


A crossbite is a type of malocclusion, or misalignment of teeth in which the upper teeth fit inside the lower teeth. This misalignment can either affect a single tooth or multiple groups of teeth, involving the front teeth, back teeth, or both sets of teeth. A posterior crossbite occurs if the back teeth are affected, and the upper teeth sit inside the bottom teeth. An anterior crossbite happens if the front teeth are in crossbite or one or more top teeth sit behind the bottom teeth. 

Gold Braces

While metal braces are typically silver in color, gold braces provide a striking, gold tone to your fixed orthodontia. Among the most popular types of braces, gold braces are likewise made from stainless steel, but they are uniquely coated in gold. Thin layers of gold that are placed over each bracket provide a sophistication to braces and offer the benefits of strong, durable, and elegant details during orthodontic treatment. Contact us to learn more about gold braces.

Orthodontic Elastics

Orthodontic elastics, also referred to as rubber bands, are small, stretchy loops made from latex placed around the brackets to help move teeth into proper alignment during orthodontic treatment. These elastic ties secure archwires to the brackets, and they are used during certain stages of treatment to help facilitate individual tooth or jaw alignment. Patients can choose from a wide range of available colors and shades of elastics.

Elastic Tie

An elastic tie is a type of ligature. These tiny rubber bands are fitted around each bracket to hold the archwire in place during treatment. Elastic ties are available in an assortment of colors to complement a patient’s style. Elastic ties are likewise available in natural colors for patients seeking a tone that best blends in with their orthodontia and overall smile.

Fixed Appliances

Fixed appliances are orthodontic appliances, such as fixed braces, that are bonded or cemented to the teeth. Fixed braces consist of small metal brackets that are cemented to the teeth. In contrast with removable orthodontic appliances, fixed appliances are not intended to be moved, removed, or altered by the patient throughout the duration of their orthodontic treatment and will be removed once treatment is complete.

Functional Orthodontic Appliances

Functional orthodontic appliances are designed to harness natural forces (including forces created from jaw growth and muscular activity) to reposition the bite into better overall alignment. These appliances use patients’ muscle movement while eating, chewing, speaking, and swallowing to move the teeth and correctly align the jaw and teeth. Activator, Bionator, Twin Block, and Herbst are all examples of functional appliances.


The Forsus™ is a fatigue-resistant device that promotes growth in adolescents, helping to correct excessive overbites, improve the positioning of teeth, and it may even help prevent the need for jaw surgery. This spring-like fixed appliance is used to move the upper molars upward and backward while pushing the lower jaw and teeth back to aid in proper alignment during orthodontic treatment. Contact us for more information about the Forsus™.

Habit Appliance

A habit appliance, or habit breaking appliance or bluegrass appliance, is a specialized dental appliance used to break detrimental dental habits in children and adolescents. Most commonly, habit appliances are used to help discontinue behaviors such as thumb sucking and finger sucking. If deemed necessary, a habit appliance can be integral to a patient’s oral health, and the use of an appliance can help facilitate successful orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontic Headgear

Orthodontic headgear comprises a removable orthodontic appliance that applies pressure both to the teeth and the upper jaw with a spring-like neck or head strap. Headgear provides traction for tooth movement and oral growth modification. The headgear’s inner bow attaches to the headgear tube, a hollow, round appliance secured on back bands. Orthodontic headgear is typically recommended for children as their jaw bones continue to grow and form.

Herbst Appliance

A Herbst appliance is a growth modification appliance used to correct a skeletal imbalance in cases where the upper jaw is too far forward compared to the lower jaw. The upper jaw’s growth is restricted while the appliance encourages the lower jaw to grow, changing the skeletal pattern. This appliance replaces old-fashioned headgear and can prevent the need for surgery and/or dental extractions in some patients.


A small orthodontic device, or arm, orthodontic hooks are small attachments on orthodontic brackets. Hooks are required to engage active components such as elastic or rubber bands for added pressure to the teeth and jaw and adjustments in spacing between the teeth during orthodontic treatment. These small metal hooks extend off the brackets. Some hooks are removable, but the majority of orthodontic hooks are attached to the brackets.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces, or incognito braces, offer confidence you can see with braces you don’t. Unlike traditional braces, incognito braces are placed on the backs of teeth and cannot easily be seen. This makes them a preferred method of tooth alignment for those concerned about their appearance — the braces are popular with those considering braces for adults and braces for teens alike as well as anyone who plays a wind instrument or engages in contact sports.

Lip Bumper

A lip bumper is a dental appliance similar to a wire that is partially coated in plastic and slides into two metal molar bands at either end and lines the front side of the lower teeth. This appliance reduces the amount of pressure exerted on the lips and cheeks by the teeth and essentially stretches or widens the lower jaw arch. An archwire attached to a piece of molded plastic encourages molars in the lower jaw to recede and provides more space for other teeth, helping to facilitate correction of the teeth, jaw, and bite.


Malocclusion means having a “poor bite” or crooked teeth.  In a normal bite, the upper teeth sit slightly forward of the lower teeth. Often, malocclusion is a cosmetic issue, but it can also lead to tooth decay or tooth loss, as crooked teeth are harder to care for properly than teeth in alignment. Orthodontic treatment can help correct the way the teeth and jaws align, fixing the cosmetic, visible malocclusion issue and facilitating ease of pursuing regular oral care.

Mouth Guard

A mouth guard is a removable appliance used to protect the mouth, teeth, and braces from harm during rigorous activities, such as sports. The use of a mouth guard is essential for orthodontic patients. These appliances are usually made from 100 percent medical-grade silicone. They are specifically designed to conform to the upper brace brackets for instant comfort and prevent lacerations and adapt to changes in the mouth as teeth adjust.

Palatal Expander

A palatal expander is a type of orthodontic appliance commonly used with braces for kids to create more space in a child’s mouth by gradually widening the upper jaw. Although it may sound scary, it’s quite simple, as the upper jaw develops as two separate halves during childhood, only fusing sometime after puberty. They are highly recommended for pre-adolescent children, but they can also be used in teens and adults. 


A common removable orthodontic device, retainers are frequently used after completing the orthodontic treatment to help maintain the alignment of teeth and jaws. This device attaches to the lower and/or teeth to keep them in place. While many retainers are removable, others are fixed appliances and are cemented to the inside of several teeth. Contact us to learn more about retainers and to find out which type of retainer best meets your needs.

Orthodontic Separators 

Orthodontic separators, or spacers, are small, latex-free rubber rings or bands that fit between two teeth to make space in preparation for fitting an orthodontic band or ring around the tooth. Orthodontic spacers are typically placed before a palatal expander is placed to achieve proper alignment via orthodontic treatment. Spacers can cause mild, temporary soreness in the surrounding gums as teeth gradually move from their original position.

Tongue Crib

A tongue crib is a custom-made habit appliance featuring a metal grate blocking the mouth’s top front roof. This grate makes it virtually impossible for children to suck on their thumbs or fingers. The tongue crib helps stop habits, or unsuitable tongue forces exerted on the teeth and bone supporting the teeth. The use of this appliance can be critical in children and adolescents who struggle with sucking thumbs or fingers as their teeth and jaw develop and form over time.

Orthodontic Wax

Orthodontic wax, or dental wax, is an easy-to-use, take-home remedy for irritation caused by braces. Dental wax is an excellent solution for patients who need a comfortable, temporary fix ro cover a protruding piece of orthodontia, such as braces. Also referred to as tooth wax, orthodontic wax temporarily covers sharp surfaces inside the mouth to help protect the mouth’s soft tissues, such as the gums, cheeks, and lips.

Orthodontic Procedures

These are some of the most common orthodontics services performed by our team at Studio32 Orthodontics. To learn more about our encompassing range of available orthodontic treatments or to get started on your journey to a beautiful smile, contact us today!

Banding & Debanding

Banding is the process of fitting and fixing orthodontic bands to the teeth, while debanding is performed to remove bands from the teeth.

Bonding & Debonding

Orthodontists use bonding to attach brackets to the teeth with strong orthodontic cement. Debonding is the removal of brackets from the teeth that are fixed with orthodontic cement.

Cephalometric X-Ray

This unique tool captures a complete radiographic image of the patient’s head, from which the Gainesville orthodontist can assess the positions and projected growth pattern of the jaws, teeth, and face.


Orthodontic impressions are used as a mold for every tailored treatment plan. Patients bite into a soft material that slowly hardens into an accurate mold of the teeth and mouth.

Interceptive Treatment

Also called early treatment, interceptive treatment is generally used in children between age 6 and age 10. Using interceptive treatment makes additional treatment less invasive and the timeframe shorter.


The orthodontic process of attaching the archwire to the brackets.

Panoramic X-Rays

Also called imaging, panoramic X-rays comprise a two-dimensional X-ray exam that captures the entire tooth and mouth structure in a single image.


Invisalign® is a clear, removable orthodontic treatment that uses a series of comfortable trays to move the teeth to create a beautiful, even smile. The trays used with Invisalign® braces are made using 3D computer imaging and have been proven as an effective orthodontic solution for many patients. Studio32 Orthodontics will happily schedule an appointment to see whether you’re a candidate for Invisalign®.


An initial meeting with your orthodontist, Dr. Mullally, in which patients meet the staff, tour the office, and receive a complete initial exam, including X-rays and photos. Studio32 Orthodontics offers a free consultation for each patient during which patients can discuss their orthodontic goals and preferences. Dr. Mullally is happy to provide answers to any questions concerning treatment, orthodontic options, and more!

At Studio32 Orthodontics, we take a genuine approach to patient care; watching smiles transform and confidence grow makes our day. We are proud to provide a comprehensive experience for each of our patients. Understanding how braces work to give you a confident smile ensures you have the answers you need.