Orthodontic Terms

A plastic used to make false teeth, retainers, and other dental products. Dental acrylic has been tested and thought to be perfectly safe.

A smooth compound used to take impressions of the teeth. It comes in many flavors!

Anything the orthodontist attaches to your teeth to move your teeth or to change the shape of your jaw. Removable appliances (clear aligners) vs fixed appliances (braces).

Arch wire
An arch wire is engaged into orthodontic attachments (braces), affixed to the crowns of two or more teeth and is capable of causing or guiding tooth movement.

Band (orthodontic)
A thin metal ring, usually stainless steel, which serves to secure orthodontic attachments to a tooth. The band, with orthodontic attachments welded or soldered to it, is closely adapted to fit the contours of the tooth and then cemented into place.

The process of attaching brackets (braces) to your teeth using a special safe dental adhesive.

An orthodontic attachment (brace) that is secured to a tooth (by bonding ) for the purpose of engaging an arch wire. Brackets can be fabricated from metal, ceramic or plastic.

Cephalometric X-Rays
An x-ray of the side of a patient?s head that shows the position and relationship of the teeth and jaws, whether they are aligned properly, and whether they are growing properly.

Ceramic Brackets
Crystalline, alumina, tooth-shade or clear synthetic sapphire brackets that are aesthetically more attractive than conventional metal brackets.

Chain/ Orthodontic Chain
A stretchable elastomeric chain is used to hold arch wires into brackets and to move teeth together. They are available in many different colors and shades to match elastic ties.

Dental malalignment caused by inadequate space for the teeth.

The removal or cemented orthodontic bands.

The removal of bonded orthodontic brackets.

Elastics (rubber bands)
Used to move teeth in prescribed direction (commonly connected to molar band hooks and ball hooks on canines). These help coordinate the upper and lower teeth properly.

Elastic Ties
Small rubber bands used to engage the arch wire securely into the bracket (brace). They are available in many different colors and shades.

The tissue that surrounds the teeth, consisting of a fibrous tissue that is continuous with the periodontal ligament and mucosal covering.

Headgear/Neck gear
Generic term for extraoral traction (attached around the back side of the head or neck) for orthopedic growth modification, tooth movement and anchorage.

The process of acquiring representations of structures in either two or three dimensions.

Of or pertaining to the tongue. A term used to describe surfaces and directions toward the tongue (i.e, the back sides of the teeth)

Lingual appliances
Orthodontic appliances fixed to the lingual surface of the teeth.

Of or pertaining to the lower jaw. May be used to describe teeth, dental restorations, orthodontic appliances, or facial structures.

Of or pertaining to the upper jaw. May be used to describe teeth, dental restorations, orthodontic appliances or facial structures.

Mouth guard
A device that is used to protect your mouth from injury when you are participating in sports. The use of a mouth guard is especially important for orthodontic patients, to prevent injuries.

A dental specialist who has completed an advanced post-doctoral course, accredited by the American Dental Association, of at least two academic years in the special area of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.

Orthognathic surgery
Surgery to alter relationships of teeth and/or supporting bones, usually accomplished in conjunction with orthodontic therapy.

Vertical overlapping of upper teeth over lower teeth, usually measured perpendicular to the occlusal plane.

Horizontal distance between the upper and lower anterior teeth.

Palatal Expander
A device used to make your upper jaw wider.

Panoramic x-ray
An x-ray taken by a machine that rotates around your head to give the orthodontist a picture of your teeth, jaws and other important information.

Any orthodontic appliance, fixed or removable, used to maintain the position of the teeth following corrective treatment.

The passive treatment period following active orthodontic correction during which retaining appliances may be used.

A plastic or metal device which the orthodontist uses to create space between your teeth for bands.

Under bite
A malocclusion where the upper anterior teeth are behind the lower anterior teeth (a negative overjet)

A clear wax used to prevent your braces from irritating your lips, cheeks, or tongue when your braces are first put on, or at other times.