Glossary

So that’s what that is called! Some common terms you may hear us use during treatment are:

Appliances– Any device, attached to the teeth or removable, designed to move the teeth, change the position of the jaw, or hold the teeth in their finished positions after braces are removed.

Archwire– The metal wire that is attached to the brackets and used to move the teeth.

Band- The metal ring that is cemented to a tooth for strength and anchorage.

Braces- A word commonly used to describe a fixed orthodontic appliance, usually comprised of brackets, bands and wires.

Bracket- The small metal, ceramic, or plastic attachment bonded to each tooth with a tooth-colored adhesive. The bracket has a slot that the archwire fits into.

Brushing– Brushing the teeth is part of an individual’s daily home dental care. Patients with braces should follow the orthodontist’s instruction on how often to brush.

Bruxism– Grinding the teeth, usually during sleeping. Bruxism can cause abnormal tooth wear and may lead to pain in the jaw joints.

Chain- A stretchable series of elastic o-rings connected together and placed around each bracket to hold the archwire in place and move the teeth.

Closed Bite/Deep Bite- Also known as deep overbite, this occurs when the upper front teeth overlap the bottom front teeth an excessive amount.

Crossbite- Upper posterior (back) teeth are in crossbite if they erupt and function inside or outside of the arch in the lower posterior teeth. Lower anterior (front) teeth are I crossbite if they erupt and function in front of the upper anterior teeth. A crossbite can be individual teeth or groups of teeth.

Extraction– The removal of a tooth.

Elastics- Rubber bands. During certain stages of treatment, small elastics or rubber bands are worn to provide individual tooth movement or jaw alignment.

Flossing– An important part of daily home dental care. Flossing removes plaque and food debris from between the teeth, brackets and wires. Flossing keeps teeth and gums clean and healthy during orthodontic treatment.

Gingiva– Soft tissue around the teeth, also known as the gums.

Headgear– An appliance worn outside of the mouth to provide traction for growth modification and tooth movement.

Impaction– A tooth that does not erupt into the mouth or only erupts partially is considered impacted.

Labial- The surface of the teeth in both arches that faces the lips.

Lingual- The tongue side of the teeth in both arches.

Malocclusion- The term used in orthodontics to describe teeth that do not fit together properly. From Latin, the term means “bad bite”.

Mouthguard- A removable device used to protect the teeth and mouth from injury caused by sporting activities. The use of a mouthguard is especially important for orthodontic patients.

Nightguard– A removable appliance worn at night to help an individual minimize the damage or wear while clenching or grinding teeth during sleep.

Open Bite- A malocclusion in which teeth do not make contact with each other. With an anterior open bite, the front teeth do not touch when the back teeth are closed together. With a posterior open bite, the back teeth do not touch when the front teeth are closed together.

Orthodontics- The specialty area of dentistry concerned with the diagnosis, supervision, guidance and correction of malocclusions. The formal name of the specialty is orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.

Palatal Expander– A fixed or removable device used to make the upper jaw wider.

Periodontal- Refers to the hard and soft tissue, or supporting structures, around the teeth.

Retainer– A fixed or removable appliance worn after the braces are removed. A removable retainer attaches to your upper and/or lower teeth and holds them in their finished positions.

Rubber Bands- During certain stages of treatment, small elastics or rubber bands are worn to provide individual tooth movement or jaw alignment.

Separators- An elastic o-ring or small wire loop placed between the teeth to create space for placement of bands. Separators are usually placed between the teeth a week before bands are scheduled to be cemented to the teeth.

Wax- Wax is placed on the brackets or archwires to prevent them from irritating the lips or cheeks.

Wires- Also known as archwires, they are held in the brackets using small elastic o-rings or stainless steel wire ligatures. Wires are used to move the teeth.