Parts of Orthodontic Braces

Parts of BracesOrthodontists have specific terms for all the parts that make up braces. It is useful for any recipient of braces to be familiar with the names so that if anything becomes damaged, breaks or seems misplaced, or if there is a feeling of soreness in certain areas of the mouth, then it much easier to explain the problem Dr. Nalchajian.


There are quite a number of parts used in the whole process of an orthodontic treatment. The most strategic one is the arch wire that has the job of moving the teeth. It is a metal structure that fits into a series of brackets and bands fitted on the teeth. The arch wire passes through a tube, which is a hollow attachment. A thin wire is used to ensure the arch wire is fixed securely to the bracket.


The next most important part is the bracket, which can be made of a variety of materials including plastic, ceramic or metal. This is attached to one of the teeth. The bracket has a slot in it, which allows space for attaching the arch wire.  It is usually made from stainless steel and is attached by the use of harmless adhesive to the tooth’s enamel. A common problem with braces is when the bracket has become detached from the tooth and then moves along the length of wire.

Coil Spring

A coil spring is a spiral piece that is fitted between two teeth over the arch wire. The coil spring serves to open the space between the two teeth it is pushing against.

Elastic Bands

When bands need to be placed around teeth for the fitting of an orthodontic appliance, sometimes room needs to be made between teeth so that bands can be installed with little discomfort. In order to make room when there are tight spaces between teeth, and no room for a brace to be placed, spacers need to be used.

Elastic rubber bands are a removable part of the braces and they attach to hooks placed on the braces. They have the strength and ability to move teeth in ways that are difficult or impossible for the braces to do. Elastic ties, called 0-tie, are small rubber bands that secure the arch wire as they are fitted around the bracket. Hooks are used to attach the elastic and are found both connected to brackets and bands or fitted on the arch wire.

Spacers or Separators

Elastic spacers are tiny elastic bands which are inserted a week or so before bands for orthodontic appliances are installed. Spacers are inserted much the same way that you would floss your teeth. The orthodontist will work the spacers down into the small gap between your teeth until they are secure. For a week these spacers will begin to move the teeth out words to create space and reduce discomfort during the installation of your orthodontic appliance. They can be a bit uncomfortable and feel as though you have something stuck in your teeth for the first few hours, but after some time you won’t even notice spacers at all. When the time comes to get bands installed around your teeth the spacers pop out and leave a perfect gap to reduce your discomfort during the installation process.

Occasionally these elastic spacers will fall out and it is the responsibility of the patient to record how many have been dislodged so that the orthodontist can do a thorough inspection and make sure that no elastic spacers and up getting lodged inside a patient’s gums. This is fairly rare but it is important to keep in mind if you have elastic spacers.

There are two other components of braces, one of which is the power chain, which is made of elastic and is used to close up spaces or prevent spaces from opening up. Finally, there is a spacer, called a separator, which is a rubber ring that is a bit larger than an 0-tie and is placed between two teeth with the purpose of creating space for bands.

When visiting the orthodontist for a check up the arch wire is the part of the brace that is changed most often along with the elastic ties that keep it in place.

If you would like to discover more about life with braces, visit our Types of Braces page here or contact our office in Fresno or Clovis.

Parts of Orthodontic Braces

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