At the Orthodontic Clinic at UNLV, we form a partnership with our patients, so that we can work together to help them achieve the healthy and beautiful smiles they deserve. When you’re just starting orthodontic treatment, it can be overwhelming trying to understand all the orthodontic terms and jargon used by your orthodontist and staff. Therefore, we’ve put together the following glossary that is designed to give you a better understanding of your treatment and the various appliances used.


A device that attaches to (or fits over) the teeth to move the teeth into the correct positions and to make corrections to a bite.


A thin wire that is fixed to the crowns of teeth to assist in guiding them into the correct positions.

Band (Orthodontic)

A thin ring, typically made of stainless steel that is fitted then cemented on a tooth. A band is carefully crafted to fit the contours of the tooth.


A small attachment that is affixed to an orthodontic band or bonded directly to teeth, serving to fasten the archwire to the band or tooth. Brackets can be made of metal, ceramic or a plastic material.


A small stretchable or elastic chain designed to hold archwires on brackets.

Coil Spring

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


The process of removing cemented orthodontic bands from teeth.

Elastics (AKA Rubber Bands)

Tiny rubber bands that tie the archwire into the bracket. Elastics are available in several colors, allowing patients to personalize their treatment.

Fixed Retainer

An appliance designed to hold the teeth in their new positions after braces are removed from the teeth or after a patient is done wearing aligners. A fixed retainer is bonded or glued to the backside of the front teeth. It is typically comfortable to wear a fixed retainer and easy to speak and eat with it in.

Habit Appliance

A appliance that is designed to discourage and end a finger or thumb sucking habit.


A device that is used for growth modification, tooth movement and anchorage. A part of the device is worn outside the mouth to apply the correct amount of pressure to move teeth, and to guide the growth of the face and jaws.

Herbst Appliance

A special appliance typically worn for about one year, for correcting overbite issues.


Imprints or molds taken of the teeth which are necessary for planning orthodontic treatment..

Interceptive Treatment

Also called early treatment, interceptive treatment is typically provided to patients who are between the ages of 6 and 10. This treatment makes any future treatment needed less invasive, and faster.

Lingual Appliances

Appliances which are attached to the lingual or tongue-side of the teeth.

MARA Appliance

Short for mandibular anterior repositioning device, the MARA appliance is designed to correct overbites by positioning the lower jaw forward.


Of or pertaining to the upper jaw. The word may be used to describe teeth in the upper jaw, dental restorations, orthodontic appliances or facial structures.


A removable mouthpiece made of a plastic material that is designed to be worn during sports to provide protection to the mouth, teeth and braces.

Palatal Expander

A device that attaches to the upper molars via bonding or by cemented bands to create a wider space in the upper jaw.


A permanent image captured on film, produced by ionizing radiation. Often referred to as an X-ray.


An appliance that can be fixed or removable, which is worn over the teeth after braces come off to hold the teeth in their new positions.

Separator (Spacer)

Small elastics that fit snugly between certain teeth to move them slightly so bands can be placed around the teeth later.


A soft and pliable wax material that's designed to be placed over brackets and wires that are causing discomfort.

Questions About Braces? Contact Us

If you have any questions about your treatment, please don’t hesitate to contact us as we’re always here to help! We want all our patients to have a good understanding of their treatment. But if you don’t understand something, don’t worry! As you move through the treatment process, we will explain every step to you.