The different parts of braces pictured

The Different Parts of Braces and What They Do

It is always a good idea to get to know the different parts of braces if you are about to start or have started treatment. Some of the different parts are bands, brackets, arch wires, rubber bands, ligatures, coil springs, and power chains.


Bands go around the back teeth, or molars. Your orthodontist will use their dental instruments to put them around the back teeth and make sure they are fitting correctly. The orthodontic bands usually are made with attachments so arch wires can go through them. The orthodontist will use a special dental cement to make sure they stay on your teeth.


The most popular type of braces requires brackets on each tooth. Brackets are small, rectangular pieces cemented to the front of your teeth. They are what holds the arch wire in place against your teeth. These brackets come in silver or gold stainless steel, or they can be clear or tooth-colored ceramic to blend in with your teeth.

If your child wants to add a little fun to their braces, they can get brackets in different shapes, like footballs, stars, and hearts. These brackets work exactly the same as regular ones, so treatment is just as effective.

Some brackets have little hooks that are used when correcting bite issues. Tiny rubber bands are connected to these hooks on the top and bottom teeth, which gradually moves the jaws to their proper positions.

For example, if a patient has an overbite, bands can be attached to brackets on the top teeth toward the front of the mouth and on the bottom teeth in the back of the mouth to gradually bring the jaw back to where it should be. For underbites, the orientation of the bands is reversed.

Arch Wires

Arch wires are the real reason your teeth move. Arch wires are thin strands of metal that are attached to each bracket with little clips built into the bracket (self-ligating braces) or with small rubber bands, which are discussed below. A thicker wire is stronger, which usually creates more movement in the teeth than a thinner wire. Arch wires are often switched out at your follow-up appointments to change the tension on the teeth.


These are the part of braces kids and teens get excited about. They plan their outfits around them, and celebrate upcoming holidays with them. Ligatures are the little rubber bands that connect the wires to the brackets. They come in a bunch of colors and are replaced during every adjustment. Patients can choose different combinations each time, making it fun to go for their appointments.

Coil Springs and Power Chains

Coil springs are used when two teeth are too close together. The coil spring goes over the arch wire and is used to move the teeth away from each other. Power chains are kind of the opposite. They are little elastic or wire rings that are linked together. They are used to help create space or an opening between teeth.

Whether you already have braces or are thinking about getting them, knowing how they work and the important role each part plays in straightening your teeth can make them less intimidating and help you understand why you need to take care of them and follow your orthodontist’s instructions.

If you have questions about braces, please don’t hesitate to call Smith Orthodontics or schedule an appointment to come see us!

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