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The following are the most commonly usedtermsin orthodontics. If you have any questions about orthodontics or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our office.

Anterior Teeth:The upper and lower six front teeth on each arch.

Appliance:Any orthodontic device which moves or retains teeth. Appliances may also alter the positioning of the jaw.

Arch:The entire upper or lower jaw.

Archwire:The metal wire that connects orthodontic brackets. This wire guides the teeth into their new alignment.

Band with bracket:Metal bands (rings) that are generally cemented around the back teeth.

Braces:Fixed orthodontic appliances designed to align teeth.

Brackets:The tiny metal, ceramic or clear brackets that are affixed to each individual tooth on the arch.

Brushing:This is a crucial part of home dental care. Orthodontists recommend those wearing braces to brush after every meal and snack to eliminate bacteria and plaque.

Buccal:The outer (cheek) side of posterior teeth in the lower and upper arches.

Cephalometric Radiograph:A side X-ray of the face and head used to show growth and development.

Chain:Elastics connected together and placed around the brackets to stabilize the archwire and gently close spaces.

Class I Malocclusion:Molars are correctly aligned, but there is an anterior/posterior crossbite, an openbite or overcrowding on the arches.

Class II Malocclusion:Also known as an overbite. The upper front teeth are positioned further forward than the lower teeth.

Class III Malocclusion:Also known as an underbite. The lower front teeth are positioned further forward than the upper front teeth.

Closed Bite:The upper front teeth completely overlap the bottom teeth causing a deep overbite.

Congenitally Missing Teeth:Some permanent teeth fail to develop and erupt due to genetic factors.

Crossbite:A malocclusion in which the upper back teeth bite inside or outside the lower back teeth, or the lower front teeth bite in front of the upper front teeth.

De-banding:The removal of orthodontic bands from the teeth.

De-bonding:The removal of affixed orthodontic brackets from the teeth.

Diagnostic Records:Records used to assess, plan and implement treatments. These records usually include medical and dental history, radiographs, panoramic radiographs, bite molds and intraoral/extraoral photographs.

Digital Radiograph:Digital X-rays of the teeth which can be viewed, stored, and transmitted via computer.

Elastics:Some braces may require that elastic rubber bands be attached to exert additional pressure to an individual tooth or a group of teeth.

Eruption:The way in which teeth surface through the gums inside the mouth.

Fixed Orthodontic Appliances:Orthodontic appliances which are affixed to the teeth by the orthodontist and cannot be removed by the patient.

Flossing:An essential part of home care that removes debris and plaque from above and below the gumline.

Functional Appliances:Orthodontic appliances that use the muscle movement created by swallowing, eating and speaking to gently move and align the teeth and jaws.

Gingiva:The gums and soft tissue around the teeth.

Headgear:A removable appliance comprised of a brace and external archwire. This device modifies growth and promotes tooth movement.

Impressions:Teeth impressions are taken to allow the orthodontist to see exactly how a patient’s teeth fit together.

Interceptive Treatment:Treatment performed on children who have a mixture of adult and baby teeth. Early treatment can help reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment in the future.

Invisalign®:A newer, removable type of dental aligner that is completely transparent and doesn’t interfere with eating because it’s removable. Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.

Ligating Modules:An elastic donut-shaped ring which helps secure the archwire to the bracket.

Ligation:Securing the archwire to the brackets.

Lingual Side:The side of the teeth (in both arches) that is closest to the tongue.

Malocclusion:Literally means “bad bite” in Latin, and refers to teeth that do not fit together correctly.

Mandible:The lower jaw.

Maxilla:The upper jaw.

Mouthguard:A removable plastic or rubber device that protects teeth and braces from sporting injuries.

Open Bite:Upper and lower teeth fail to make contact with each other. This malocclusion is generally classified as anterior or posterior.

Orthodontics:The unique branch of dentistry concerned with diagnosing, preventing and correcting malocclusions and jaw irregularities.

Orthodontist:A dental specialist who prevents, diagnoses and treats jaw irregularities and malocclusions. Orthodontists must complete two or three additional years of college after dental school and complete a residency program.

Palatal Expander:A removable or fixed device designed to expand the palate in order create room on either the upper or lower arch.

Panoramic Radiograph:An extraoral (external) X-ray that shows the teeth and jaws.

Plaque:The sticky film of saliva, food particles and bacteria that contributes to gum disease and tooth decay.

Posterior Teeth:Back teeth.

Removable Appliance:An orthodontic brace or device that can be removed at will by the patient. It must be worn for the designated amount of time each day to be effective.

Separators:A wire loop or elastic ring placed between the teeth to create room for the subsequent placement of bands or orthodontic appliance.

Space Maintainer:A fixed appliance used to hold space for permanent (adult) tooth. This is usually used when a baby tooth has been lost earlier than anticipated.

Wax:Orthodontic relief wax is a home care remedy used to alleviate irritations caused by braces.

Wires:Attached to the brackets to gently move the teeth into proper alignment.


Rensselaer Dentist