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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.