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Parts of Braces

Sequence Orthodontics, conveniently located in Waldorf and Leonardtown, and serving Charles County and St. Mary’s County, Maryland, is committed to providing effective patient education for those with orthodontic problems. Below is a list of parts of braces to help patients become familiar with these terms.


The archwire is the wire that connects all of the brackets and bands together and performs the actual work of aligning the brackets, thus aligning the teeth. When the orthodontist places a bend in the archwire, the teeth will follow and move accordingly.


Bands are metal rings that are placed on the molars, or back teeth. They each have a metal attachment that connects to the archwire. Bands are bonded onto the teeth using special dental cement.

Bonded Retainer

A bonded or fixed retainer is typically made of wire and bonded to the inside of the lower front teeth to help keep them straight after the braces come off. A bonded retainer may also be used behind the upper front teeth to help close a gap between those teeth.


Brackets are the small stainless steel or ceramic squares that are bonded to the front and side teeth and connected to the archwire.

Clear Brackets

Clear brackets are made of a ceramic material to closely match the color of the teeth, making the braces less visible.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)

Elastics are rubber bands that are used by the patient to stretch from one bracket or band in the upper arch to a bracket or band in the lower arch in order to apply force that will gradually move the teeth. You can choose from tooth colored elastics or very colorful ones. Because these elastics get stretched out over time, you may change them yourself once a day to keep them effectively moving your teeth. We’ll provide you with bags of elastics so you will have plenty as needed. Wearing elastics faithfully as prescribed is essential for optimal results.

Herbst Appliance

A Herbst appliance is an orthopedic device that is used to modify growth. Unlike a headgear, which is removable, the Herbst appliance is cemented in place and holds the lower jaw in a forward position to help maximize the potential for growth in the lower jaw. Although the patient’s lower jaw may be positioned a bit forward while wearing a Herbst appliance, they are able to open and close their mouth and eat and speak normally.


O-rings are small rubber rings that are used to support the archwire’s attachment to each bracket. Our orthodontists position these by stretching the o-ring around the corners of each bracket, over the archwire. O-rings may be silver or clear in color to match the brackets, but they are also available in a variety of colors. Self-ligating brackets do not require o-rings, as these brackets have a little gate that opens and shuts to hold the archwire in place.

Palatal Expander

A palatal expander is an orthodontic appliance that is bonded to the upper back teeth and is used to help widen the upper arch. This appliance is used to correct crossbites of the back teeth when upper teeth hit inside of the lower teeth.

Power and Energy Chain

Power and energy chain are rows of rubber o-rings that are connected together like links in a chain. The chain is stretched over a group of brackets, with each ring going around one bracket. As the stretched chain contracts, it pulls the teeth closer together.  This device is used to move the teeth along the archwire and to close gaps between teeth. Power chain comes in gray, clear or many fun colors. You may request to change the power chain at each appointment, therefore getting new colors at every visit!


Separators, or spacer, are small rubber bands that are used to create space between the back teeth prior to fitting the patient with braces. Teeth normally sit very tightly next to each other. In order to allow for the thickness of the bands that anchor the braces, separators must be placed between the teeth for about a week to begin the work of making room for the bands. The separators slightly push the teeth apart so bands can be positioned around them.


Retainers are used to retain your teeth in place after orthodontic treatment and are an essential part of successful treatment. Retainers are necessary because teeth often shift back to their old positions once the orthodontic force is removed. Retainers prevent this from happening and allow time for the teeth to settle into their new positions. The longer a retainer is worn, the less likely your teeth will relapse or move. The plastic part of the retainer may be ordered in a variety of fun colors! Your strict adherence to wearing your retainer after your braces come off is absolutely essential to the success of your orthodontic treatment.

What Should I Do Next?

This list of parts of braces is provided as a patient education service. If you need more information on braces, please contact our office. At Sequence Orthodontics, conveniently located in Waldorf and Leonardtown, and serving Charles County and St. Mary’s County, Maryland, we believe an informed patient has the highest likelihood of achieving optimal results!</em