Common Terms You’ll Hear at San Antonio & Universal City Orthodontics


At UC Smiles Orthodontics, our goal is to make sure you experience friendliness and comfort while receiving quality orthodontic care. We also aim to make sure you understand the orthodontic process completely. This includes providing information about common terms heard at San Antonio & Universal City orthodontics. The following are some things you might hear if you are considering or undergoing treatment to straighten your smile:

  • Appliance – This refers to various gadgets we attach to the teeth to make them straight. Types of orthodontic appliances include:
    • Habit Appliance – These are used in younger children who have a habit of thumb-sucking.
    • Herbst Appliance – These are attached to the mouth, but can sometimes be removable, and are made to correct overbites.
    • Lingual Appliance – These are attached to the inside of the teeth.
    • MARA Appliance – These help to push the lower jaw into place in order to fix an overbite.
    • Palatal Expander Appliance – These are attached with cement to the back molars to help widen the jaw.
    • Retainer Appliance – These are often used after orthodontic treatment, and aid in keeping the position of the teeth where it should be.
  • Archwire – The wire that runs through the brackets, guiding the teeth in which direction they should move. 
  • Band – A metal ring that fits around the teeth after the separators have made space. Orthodontic attachments are then secured to the bands.
  • Brackets – The orthodontic attachments that are cemented to each tooth. They are typically made of metal, but can also be plastic or ceramic. The archwire runs through the brackets to gently pull or push the teeth in the right direction.
    • Ceramic Brackets – Orthodontic attachments that are less noticeable than metal as they are generally made from clear or tooth-colored synthetic materials.
  • Chain or Elastic – A small elastic that wraps around the brackets to hold the archwires in place.
  • Coil Spring – A coil that is inserted over the archwire to help direct the teeth.
  • Debanding – When the orthodontic bands come off and the cement is removed. 
  • Headgear – A piece that helps to move the teeth and modify growth, and is worn around the head. 
  • Impressions – A tooth mold that is taken so the orthodontist can come up with the best treatment course.
  • Interceptive Treatment – An early treatment phase that makes later treatment easier on the patient.
  • Maxillary – A word used to describe something that relates to the upper jaw. This includes speaking of facial structure, dental work, appliances, or teeth.
  • Mouthguard – A piece that is worn over the braces for patients who play sports to receive protection.  
  • Radiograph – An image similar to X-rays, and often referred to as X-rays. They are made with ionizing radiation and can stay in a patient’s file forever. 
  • Separator – Also known as a spacer, these are small elastics that are inserted between teeth. This gives the orthodontist the space needed to attach bands.
  • Wax – Something that patients are given to place over irritable places on the braces. It is generally placed on brackets or wires that cut and poke the inside of the mouth.

Contact Your Universal City or San Antonio Orthodontist Today

To learn more about orthodontics and what your treatment might consist of, contact UC Smiles Orthodontics today. We would be more than happy to explain any and all treatments, terminology, or timelines to expect when undergoing orthodontic treatments. We look forward to your call in our Universal City office at 210-658-2251, or in our San Antonio office at 210-340-0995.