What Are Orthodontic Pliers?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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Orthodontic pliers are pliers that have been specially designed to fit within the mouth and adjust orthodontic equipment, particularly braces. Pliers are orthodontic instruments that allow orthodontists to exert a great deal of control over how orthodontic contraptions are installed, maintained, and removed. Orthodontic pliers regularly snip wires, tighten brackets, and bend metal bands. Most orthodontists have several pairs of pliers, each optimized for a different task.

Resembling an ordinary set of pliers a person might find in an ordinary toolbox, an orthodontist’s pliers are usually much smaller and designed for a more precise purpose. Most orthodontic pliers are made of smoothed metal with flat, pointed heads. They must be small enough that the orthodontist can comfortably manipulate them within a patient’s mouth but big enough to get the job done.

The shape of orthodontic pliers varies based on the task the tool is meant to perform. Wire-cutting pliers, for instance, are often more like scissors, with sharp heads that come to a point. Pliers meant to loosen brackets or dental bands often have wider heads, usually bent at an angle to allow better gripping. The heads are usually smaller on pliers designed to be used in children’s mouths or on child-sized appliances.


Pliers are what make it possible for orthodontists and their hygienists to loop wires onto the teeth for braces and are how bands on teeth can be tightened or loosened. Most of the time, orthodontics appliances are very small yet contain very precise metal instruments. It is usually too hard for an orthodontist to use his or her hands to adjust things. Using orthodontic pliers makes the doctor’s job easier while making procedures and installations more comfortable for the patients.

Different orthodontic pliers are often used in dental labs. Orthodontists and their technicians often use special orthodontic supplies for breaking plaster molds, bending plastic retainers, and designing models of patients’ mouths. Pliers used for these purposes are often larger and more abrasive than pliers used in patients’ mouths. Nevertheless, these more heavy-duty pliers can also be used in patient care, particularly when removing stubborn appliances.

Orthodontic pliers, like most orthodontic instruments, are made of stainless steel, which helps prevent them from attracting environmental germs or contaminants. Stainless steel can also withstand high temperatures, which allows the pliers to be sterilized between patients in extremely hot water or steam. Pliers that come into contact with patients’ mouths have to be disinfected for health reasons. It is not uncommon for an orthodontist to own multiple copies of the same orthodontic pliers in order to minimize the frequency of sterilization.


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