Orthodontics

Glossary

Anterior
Front.

Appliances
This refers to any device that is designed to alter the position of the teeth or jaw. In some cases, they are used to hold the teeth in their final positions after braces are removed. It may be attached or removable.

Arch
Lower or upper jaw.

Archwire
This refers to the metal wire attached to the brackets of a brace.

Band
This refers to the metal ring attached to the teeth for anchorage and strength.

Braces
This refers to a fixed orthodontic appliance with bands, wires and brackets. Here are the parts of a brace:

  • Archwire –Tied to all the brackets and creates pressure to move teeth into their correct alignment.
  • Brackets – These are directly bonded on the teeth or connected to the bands, and keeps the archwire in place.
  • Ligature – This holds the archwire to each bracket and it can either be a twisted wire or tiny elastic.
  • Metal Band – This is the cemented ring of metal that is wrapped around each tooth.

Bracket
This can either be metal, ceramic, or plastic and it is bonded to each tooth using adhesive.

Brushing
This is part of your daily home dental care. Patients with braces are required to follow their orthodontist’s special instructions on how to brush the teeth.

Bruxism
It’s the medical term for teeth grinding which often occurs while sleeping. Bruxism can lead to jaw pain and abnormal tooth wear.

Buccal
The back teeth’s cheek side in both jaws or arches.

Buccal Tube
This refers to a tiny metal part of the bracket that is welded to the molar band’s cheek side. It may hold a lip bumper, archwire, or other appliances used by an orthodontist to move teeth.

Cephalometric Radiograph
Lateral X-ray of the head.

Chain
This refers to a stretchable series of o-rings that are connected together and placed over each bracket to keep the archwire in place and move the teeth.

Class I Malocclusion
This pertains to a malocclusion with proper molar relationship and teeth that are spaced apart or crowded together. It may also refer to an openbite, overbite, and crossbite.

Class II Malocclusion
This pertains to a malocclusion with a protruding upper front teeth or it may be due to the lower teeth/jaw positioned back relative to upper jaw or teeth.

Class III Malocclusion
This pertains to a malocclusion with a protruding lower front teeth or it may be due to the lower front teeth/jaw positioned ahead relative to upper jaw or teeth.

Comprehensive Treatment
This pertains to the complete orthodontic treatment to correct malocclusions.

Congenitally Missing Teeth
It’s a genetic condition wherein the normal number of permanent teeth do not completely develop.

Crossbite
The upper back teeth are in crossbite if they come out or function inside or outside the lower posterior teeth’s arch. Lower front teeth are in crossbite if they come out or function in front of the upper front teeth. This condition may refer to individual tooth or a group of teeth.

DDS or DMD
DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery while DMD stands for Doctor of Dental Medicine. According to the American Dental Association, they are equivalent degrees and all orthodontists who studied in the United States or Canada have either a DDS or DMD after their name. In addition, an orthodontist is required to undergo 2-3 years of specialty education after they graduate from dental school.

Diagnostic Records
This pertains to the material and information needed by an orthodontist to provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for each patient. Diagnostic records include patient’s medical history, visual oral and maxillofacial examination, plaster models of the teeth, photographs on extraoral and intraoral, wax bite registration, a panoramic x-ray and a cephalometric radiograph.

Ectopic Eruption
Teeth that erupted in an abnormal position.

Eruption
The process by which each tooth enters the mouth.

Extraction
Removal of a tooth or teeth.

Elastics
These are essentially rubber bands that are used in certain stages of orthodontic treatments.

Facebow
This is a wire appliance used with a headgear or nightbrace. It is used primarily to move the upper first molars backward, so as to create room for protrusive or crowded front teeth. It has an internal wire bow which connects to the buccal tube and it also has an external wire bow which connects to the breakaway safety strap of the headgear.

Fiberotomy
This is a surgical procedure that will cut fibers of attachment surrounding the tooth and is done to reduce the possibility of relapse so the tooth won’t move after completing orthodontic treatment.

Fixed Appliances
These are orthodontic devices that are bonded or cemented to the teeth that should not be removed.

Flossing
Another essential part of daily oral care. Flossing removes food particles and plaque in between teeth, wires and brackets.

Frenectomy
The surgical repositioning of the frenum which refers to the attachment of the lip and tongue found between the lower and upper front teeth. A large frenum attachment leads to spacing between the front teeth and may even cause the tongue to be tied.

Functional Appliances
Devices that make use of muscle action produced when you eat, speak or swallow so that there is force to move the teeth and help the jaw become aligned. It is also known by other names such as activator, Frankel, corrector, Herbst, bionator or twin block appliance.

Gingiva
This refers to the gums.

Gummy Smile
Excessive amount of gum tissue above the front teeth that are visible when you smile.

Headgear
An orthodontic appliance that you wear outside of the mouth to provide traction for tooth movement and growth modification.

Herbst Appliance
This is a fixed or removable device used to encourage the lower jaw to move forward. It can be fixed or removable.

Impaction
A tooth that erupts partially or does not erupt at all.

Interceptive Treatment
This is a kind of orthodontic treatment that is performed (mostly on younger patients) to intercept an emerging problem.

Interproximal Reduction
A small amount of enamel is removed from between the teeth as a way to reduce their width. Also referred to as enamel reduction, reproximation, stripping, slenderizing or selective reduction.

Labial
The teeth surface in both arches facing the lips.

Ligating Modules
It’s a tiny elastic o-ring and it is shaped like a donut. Its main function is to keep the archwire in place in the bracket.

Lingual
The teeth’s tongue side in both arches.

Lip Bumper
This is an internal wire bow that connects the buccal tubes of the lower molar bands. The bow’s front portion comes with an acrylic bumper that rests against the interior of the lower lip. The lower lip muscles puts pressure to the lip bumper causing the molars to move back.

Lip Incompetence
Being unable to close the lips together oftentimes due to protrusive front teeth or in some cases, excessively long faces.

Malocclusion
The term used to describe teeth that do not fit properly together.

Maxilla
Upper jaw.

Mandible
Lower jaw.

Mixed Dentition
A developmental stage in children between the age of 6-12 wherein they have a combination of primary and permanent teeth.

Mouthguard
A removable appliance designed to protect the teeth and mouth during sporting activities. It is particularly important for those wearing braces.

Nightguard
A removable device that you wear at night to help prevent clenching or grinding of the teeth.

Open Bite
A condition in which the front teeth and back teeth do not touch each other.

Orthodontics
The branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, guidance, supervision and correction of malocclusions.

Orthodontist
A dental specialist whose expertise lies in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of dental and facial irregularities. To become an orthodontist, a person has to graduate from an accredited dental school and completed two years of full time orthodontic residency program from an accredited institution.

Orthopedic Appliance
This refers to a removable device that will guide the growth of the face and jaw.

Panoramic Radiograph
An x-ray showing all the teeth as well as both jaws on a single film.

Palatal Expander
A device used to widen the upper jaw.

Periodontal
Refers to the soft and hard tissue, as well as supporting structures surrounding the teeth.

Plaque
This is the clear, sticky film of bacteria, saliva and food particles in the mouth. It combines with sugar to form an acid that damages the gums and teeth, leading to gum disease and tooth decay.

Posterior
Back.

Preventive Treatment
Orthodontic treatment that will reduce or prevent the severity of a developing bad bite.

Removable Appliance
A device that you can remove from your mouth. These are used to align jaws, move teeth, and keep teeth in their new positions after removing the braces.

Retainer
An orthodontic appliance worn after the braces are taken out to keep them from changing position.

Rubber Bands
These small elastics are worn to provide movement to individual tooth or jaw alignment.

Safety Strap
It prevents the facebow from coming loose and potentially causing injury.

Separators
This small wire loop is placed between the teeth to allow for the placement of bands. They are often placed between the teeth before bands are cemented permanently.

Serial Extraction
This is the guided removal of some baby teeth and/or permanent teeth.

Space Maintainer
A fixed device that will hold space for permanent teeth if the baby teeth has been lost early due to decay or accident.

Supernumerary Teeth
This genetic condition causes more teeth to erupt than normal causing malformation.

Tongue Crib
A fixed orthodontic appliance designed to stop thumb sucking or tongue thrusting habits.

Tongue Thrust
The tendency of an individual to push his or her tongue against the teeth. Forces generated by such movement can move the teeth and bone resulting in posterior or anterior open bite.

Wax
This substance is placed on the archwires and brackets to keep them from irritating the cheeks or lips.

Wires
These are used to move the teeth and are kept in the brackets by means of small flexible o-rings or stainless steel ligatures.

American Dental Association
American Association of Orthodontics
World Federation of Orthodontists
New York State Dental Association
9th District dental society