Common Problems and Terms

Orthodontic Emergencies

There are very few orthodontic emergencies, most problems can be remedied at home. While you await your appointment, these guidelines will help you resolve minor problems. Please know that even if you alleviate the pain caused by your broken appliance, it is important to contact our office as you may still need a repair appointment.

Lost Separator

It is common for a patient to lose a separator before their next appointment. Please call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.

Sore Teeth/Discomfort with Orthodontic Treatment

Right after you get your braces, and sometimes after you have an adjustment appointment, your teeth and mouth will feel sore. To alleviate the pain, you may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces. You can also gargle lukewarm salt water, which is a mixture of one teaspoon of salt dissolved in eight ounces of water.

Wire Irritations

If the end of your wire is poking or bothering you, apply a small piece of wax to the problem area. If this problem does not resolve in a day or two, and you are unable to wait for your next scheduled appointment, please contact the office and we will do our best to schedule as soon as possible.

Loose Bracket

First, call our office to see if the bracket needs to be replaced sooner than your next scheduled appointment. Until your repair appointment, temporarily place wax to ease any discomfort.

Common Terms

These are some of the most common terms we use in our office, this will help us better understand any issues you may be experiencing.


A device used to move your teeth or correct your bite (ex. braces or expander).


A wire conforming to the dental arch that can be used to correct irregularities in the position of the teeth or maintain existing dental positions.


Tooth colored dots made of composite material that are placed onto the teeth to help the Invisalign aligners move teeth.


A thin metal ring, usually stainless steel, which serves to secure orthodontic appliances to a tooth. The band is closely adapted to fit the contours of the tooth and then cemented into place

Bite Correctors


A coil attached to the archwire


A rod with a coil spring around it, attached to a band and the archwire

Bonded Lingual RetainersBonded Lingual Retainers (Bond Lings)

A single wire made of metal or gold cemented to the back of your teeth to prevent shifting. Commonly placed on upper four and lower six front teeth

BracketBracket2Bracket (Brace)

An attachment made of metal or ceramic that holds the archwire against each tooth. Most commonly the brackets in our office are self-ligating, which uses a built-in system to secure the wire into. Brackets are attached to each individual tooth


Rubber rings with a cushion guard to help reduce tooth/bracket contact


Similar to a bracket, this attachment is bonded to your tooth to help in many ways, including holding elastics or helping tooth movement


An elastic material consisting of multiple connected rings, wrapped around most brackets


Made of either stainless steel or nickel, placed between brackets onto the archwire to help open or maintain space

Comfort Tube

A rubber tubing placed onto the archwire between a space for comfort or reinforcement of the wire


The removal of cemented bands or brackets

ElasticsElastics (Rubber Bands)

Latex bands that are attached to brackets/hooks in different ways most commonly to correct bite.
*Please be sure to ask your Doctor/Assistant how you should be wearing your elastics

Face MaskFace mask

A device attached to the forehead and chin, connected to bands with elastics for growth modification, tooth movement and anchorage

Habit Appliance

A cemented or removable device used to deter thumb or finger sucking habits


An imprint or mold of the teeth used to design an appliance. Most commonly used for retainers or expanders


A mouthpiece that is tailored to provide protection to the teeth/braces


A colored elastic tie that is placed around a bracket commonly for aesthetics. Mainly placed only on upper four front teeth

Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE)

Attached to the upper molars with cemented bands. This appliance is used to create a wider space in the upper jaw

EssixRetainer (Essix)

A removable appliance used to maintain the position of the teeth following corrective treatment


A small elastic ring that is placed between certain teeth to create space for a cemented band to fit