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Understanding the Parts of Braces

Welcome to Reese Orthodontics, your Charleston, SC premier Invisalign and Braces professional. We look forward to helping you obtain your best smile.

Braces may have a one-word name, but they are composed of several important parts. Some of these parts may be changed, removed, or omitted from your treatment depending on your needs. Regardless, understanding the parts of your braces and how they work can help you prevent problems and better take care of your teeth while they’re being treated. Whether you’ve had your braces for a while or are just considering your options at the moment, read on to learn more.

Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.


Brackets are the most obvious part of your braces. They are attached to the front of your teeth with special chemical adhesive. They support the wire that applies the pressure that moves your teeth, allowing it to hold on and do its job.

Brackets can be customized with different materials and colors such as ceramic or metal variants. Ceramic brackets are often more expensive, but they remain a popular option due to their subtler appearance. They’re equally effective in your treatment, despite the difference in appearance.


Archwires are bent to match the curvature of your teeth. They hook into the brackets to provide the pressure needed to slowly reposition your teeth over time. While the brackets stay on, the wire can be removed, tightened, or replaced with a more heavy-duty one to accelerate treatment.

Consider the case of two teeth that have a gap in between. The archwire loosens the teeth from a membrane that exists between your teeth and jawbone, making them possible to move. Over time, they move slowly along the wire like cars on a track until the gap is closed.

Molar Bands

Molar bands are an optional but commonplace part of many braces. They anchor the wire using brackets that are cemented to the patient’s molars using a special adhesive. They’re usually made of stainless steel or another durable metal.

Molar bands are useful in the following instances:

  • When large gaps need to be closed between teeth
  • When the patient needs a special appliance such as an upper jaw expander
  • When the patient requires corrective jaw surgery

The bands keep the brackets from breaking through their welded attachments to the archwire.

Rubber Bands

Removable rubber bands can also be used to aid in treatment. Elastic bands attach to the brackets on the top and lower rows of teeth. They are especially useful when your orthodontist wants your braces to correct your bite, as they can coerce your top and lower jaw into the correct alignment over time.


Ligatures are also elastic bands, but they aren’t as obvious. These tiny bands wrap around the brackets and attach the archwire to them. They must be replaced whenever your braces are adjusted. However, many patients enjoy swapping them out for different colors to make for a more individualized treatment between visits.

Power Chain

Power chains are one more type of elastic band that must be replaced at each adjustment appointment. They look like elastic rings tied together between the teeth. They’re often used when your orthodontist doesn’t want the braces to separate teeth too far.

They can stretch the chain over the affected brackets, allowing the teeth to more effectively close gaps. The default color is grey, but there are other unique colors available as well. Since power chains must be replaced at each orthodontic appointment, new colors can be swapped out each time.

Coil Spring

Due to the unique placement of many patients’ teeth, the brackets can sometimes be too close together. In that case, a coil spring can be inserted over the wire between those teeth to add extra pressure on that spot. This will help push the teeth apart, so the braces aren’t so crowded.

Choose Reese Orthodontics

Understanding the parts of your braces and how they work can help you better take care of your teeth while they’re being treated. For orthodontic care in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic options can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatments are right for you. 

Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible care in your area.

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