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A Quick Guide to Orthodontic Terms

Sep 22, 2014 - 05:09 PM EST |  Posted under: General, Orthodontics

You have made the wise decision to start your child in orthodontic treatment. Now that you are dealing with braces for kids, you might find yourself faced with terms that you have never come across. If you have found yourself in an orthodontist’s office or staring in your child’s mouth asking, “What is that thing?” then check out these brief descriptions.

Palate Expander

A palate expander is an appliance that is often used in the early stage, or phase I, of orthodontics. Its name describes its purpose: it expands or widens the upper jaw so that top teeth and bottom teeth can fit together better. It achieves progressive expansion by being widened by the orthodontist through the turning of a key.


Separators, or spacers, are just that. They are very small rings that are placed between teeth to create enough space for braces, bands, and other more permanent orthodontic appliances. They typically stay in for about two weeks, or long enough to create adequate space between crowded teeth.

Bite Plate

A bite plate is an appliance most commonly used to open one’s bite. It often prevents the upper and lower teeth from meeting when the bite is closed. The purpose of this appliance in braces for children is to provide space for teeth to properly erupt.

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