Name and functions of Orthodontics instruments

Welcome to the wonderful world of orthodontic instruments! Specialised orthodontic equipment helps orthodontists do what they do best – straighten teeth, align the jaw, and correct malocclusions known colloquially as a ‘bad bite’.

But just what are the name and functions of these various orthodontic instruments? Here’s a quick study guide to the nine most common pieces of orthodontic equipment, from specialised pliers to sharp wire cutters.

Dental mirror

dental mirror

While not exclusive to orthodontics, a simple dental mirror is a crucial piece of equipment used during orthodontic procedures. It provides a clear and accurate mirror image of the inside of the mouth as well as hard-to-reach back teeth.

Ligature cutter

Also known as a pin or wire cutter, this orthodontic instrument features two fine ends used for cutting fine stainless steel or elastic ligatures.

Orthodontic pliers

Orthodontic pliers

A versatile piece of orthodontic equipment, orthodontic pliers come in various shapes – with safely rounded tips to protect the patient. Some pliers have special names like the “Weingarts”, “Bird-Beaks”, “139s”, “Mosquitoes”, “Mathieus” and “Tweeds”! Knowing these names, you may even find your appointment even more interesting when you hear your orthodontist ask for these pliers! They’re used to hold and adjust the orthodontic archwires and to remove and replace auxiliary attachments such as coil springs and elastics (components of braces) inside the mouth.

Distal end cutters

This specialised orthodontic instrument is used to cut the end of an orthodontic arch wire. It features a long axis with two sharp cutting ends at right angles, thus fitting perfectly inside the mouth. It also safely holds the end of the cut wire to ensure it is not lost at the back of the mouth!

Cheek retractors

During an orthodontic procedure, it is important for your lips and cheeks to be well out of the way so they can have a good field of view and access your teeth. Cheek retractors are small plastic pieces that do exactly that. They can be used for taking photos, placing braces or clear aligner attachments.

Dental probes

periodontal probes

A dental probe (sometimes known as an “explorer”) is a long and thin orthodontic instrument with a pointed end. It can be used to help position orthodontic brackets and to remove elastic ligatures.

Band remover

A band remover is an orthodontic instrument with two beaks on its working end – one nylon-tipped, one flat. It’s used to safely remove metal bands on your back teeth.

Bite sticks

bite sticks

This piece of orthodontic equipment requires the patient’s input! It’s used to place a metal band on a back tooth, with the patient biting down on the stick to nudge the band into the correct place once the orthodontist has placed it in the correct position.

And there you have it! Our quick study guide to some of the most commonly used orthodontic instruments. 

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