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Orthodontic Dictionary

Orthodontic Dictionary

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

Anterior Teeth: 
Anterior teeth are the ones you show to the world. They are usually the front six teeth, but sometimes are the front eight. The front six are your upper central incisors, the lower central incisors, and your lateral incisors.

Appliance: In dentistry, the word appliance refers primarily to a removable device used to align teeth and other physical structures in the mouth.

Arch: The arch is the curvature of a tooth. The front part of the tooth, known as the incisal edge, conforms to the arch of your upper and lower jaws.

Archwire: An archwire is a thin, flexible wire that is used to hold a bracket or band in place on a patient’s tooth. It connects the bracket or band to the patient’s tooth and allows the orthodontist to move the teeth into their correct alignment.

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

Braces: Braces are also called orthodontic appliances and are used to improve the alignment of teeth in a person’s mouth. In some cases, braces are also used to correct overbites or underbites. Although braces can be used on both adults and children, they are most often used on children.

Brackets: Brackets are small pieces of metal that are attached to a tooth, usually with a special adhesive. They’re attached to the tooth before a filling is placed in order to keep the tooth stable and steady.

Brushing: Brushing is the act of rubbing one’s teeth with a toothbrush. The purpose of brushing is to remove food and bacterial plaque from the teeth, tongue, and gums. Brushing removes plaque and food that can lead to cavities and other dental diseases like gingivitis.

Buccal: Buccal refers to the cheek tissue surrounding the mouth. The buccal mucosa is the soft tissue inside the cheeks, and buccal analgesia uses a local anaesthetic on this surface to reduce pain.

Cephalometric Radiograph: A cephalometric radiograph , also known as a cephalometric chart or cephalostat, is an X-ray of the head and neck. Cephalometrics are used in dentistry and orthodontics for diagnosis, analysis, and treatment planning.

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

Class I Malocclusion: Class I malocclusion means that the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth. If you have class I malocclusion, your overbite is greater than your underbite, and your upper and lower front teeth are out of alignment. Class I dental malocclusion is the most common type of malocclusion.

Class II Malocclusion: Class II malocclusion occurs when the upper teeth are too far forward, and the lower teeth are too far back. It’s also called an overbite.

Class III Malocclusion: Class III malocclusion is a common type of malocclusion, or crooked teeth, that is characterized by an underbite. In a Class III malocclusion, the lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw and the teeth are positioned below the upper front teeth.

Closed Bite: A closed bite is when the upper and lower teeth come together and there is no space between them.

Congenitally Missing Teeth: Congenitally Missing Teeth, also known as CMT, is a condition where one or more teeth are missing when a child is born. This occurs due to several factors, including genetic disorders like cleidocranial dysostosis (CCD), or exposure to high doses of radiation.

Crossbite: A crossbite is a misalignment of the upper and lower teeth in the jaw, which is usually due to an abnormal growth of the jaw. A crossbite may occur on one or both sides of the mouth.

De-banding: De-banding is the removal of bands that are placed on teeth during orthodontic treatment. The purpose of de-banding is to allow the teeth to relax back into their natural position.

De-bonding: De-bonding is the removal of a dental bonding agent, usually with the intention of replacing it with a permanent restoration.

Diagnostic Records: In the context of dentistry, diagnostic records are all of the information that is gathered from the patient’s history, physical examination, radiographs, and laboratory results. These records are then used by the dentist for treatment planning and for communication with other healthcare providers.

Digital Radiograph: A digital radiograph, or simply a radiograph, is an image made by using X-rays to expose film or an electronic sensor.

Elastics: Elastics are used in dentistry to hold the archwire in place. In braces, elastics are used to hold the archwire in place and to provide tension to the wire so it can do its job of moving the teeth.

Eruption: Eruption is the word used to describe the process by which teeth make their way out of a person’s gums. Eruption begins when a tooth begins to grow in the jaw, but it takes some time for the tooth to make its way through the gums and into the mouth, so eruption can take quite a bit of time.

Fixed Orthodontic Appliances: Fixed orthodontic appliances are used to move teeth and jaws into their final position. Fixed appliances can be made of metal, ceramic, or plastic, and are cemented to the teeth.

Flossing: Flossing is using a piece of floss or string to get rid of food particles between your teeth. Dentists recommend that you floss your teeth at least once a day. Flossing can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Functional Appliances: Functional appliances are devices that are used to change the position of the teeth. They are often used to correct a malocclusion (a bite problem) or in combination with other treatments, like orthodontics.

Gingiva: Gingiva is the soft tissue around the teeth, including the gums. It’s made up of tissue that contains blood vessels and various types of cells. The purpose of gingiva is to protect the teeth and hold them in place.

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

Impressions: Impressions are the most common dental term to describe a mold or cast of your teeth. When you go to the dentist, they will take an impression of your teeth in order to use it to make a new set of teeth.

Interceptive Treatment: Interceptive treatment is the treatment given to a person who has not yet developed cavities or any other dental problem but is at risk of developing such problems. Interceptive treatment is done in order to prevent the person from getting dental problems in the future.

Invisalign®: Invisalign® is a clear, nearly invisible way to straighten your teeth. Invisalign is a series of clear aligners custom-made to fit your teeth. Each aligner is virtually invisible, so you can straighten your teeth without anyone knowing.

Ligating Modules: Ligating modules are the little wires that go around your dental braces. They’re small, thin wires that hold your dental braces together as you bite down on them.

Ligation: Ligation is a process that involves the joining of two or more strands or filaments to form a single strand or filament. In dentistry, ligatures are used as an alternative to stitches or staples to hold tissues together.

Lingual Side: The lingual side of a tooth is where the tongue touches a tooth when you touch your teeth with your tongue.

Malocclusion: Malocclusion means bad bite. This is a misalignment of the teeth. There are three types of malocclusion that can be recognized: overbite, underbite, and crossbite.

Mandible: Mandible is the lower jaw bone in your mouth. The mandible is responsible for holding the lower teeth in place and for chewing food.

Maxilla: Maxilla is the upper jaw bone of a vertebrate, in humans the maxilla is the bone of the upper jaw. The maxilla consists of two parts, the right and left maxillae.

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

Open Bite: An open bite is a malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth) in which the upper and lower teeth do not close properly. This means that the upper and lower teeth do not meet when the mouth is closed.

Orthodontics: Orthodontics is the medical specialty that is concerned with the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of malocclusions and dysfunctions of the jaws, facial and cranial structures, and the maxillofacial region.

Orthodontist: An Orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of malocclusions and dental irregularities associated with facial development.

Palatal Expander: In dentistry, a palatal expander is a type of orthodontic appliance used to widen the upper arch of the mouth. It is used as a part of treatment for patients with crowded teeth, bite misalignments, or who want to expand the upper jaw for cosmetic reasons.

Panoramic Radiograph: A panoramic radiograph is a type of X-ray that is used to take a detailed image of the teeth and jaw. Unlike a traditional dental x-ray, which shows only a small part of the mouth, a panoramic x-ray gives dentists a full view of the inside of the patient’s mouth.

Plaque: Plaque is a soft, sticky layer of bacteria that forms on the surface of your teeth. If the plaque isn’t removed by brushing and flossing, it hardens and becomes tartar. Tartar is calcified plaque that can only be removed through professional cleaning by your dentist.

Posterior Teeth: osterior teeth are the set of teeth in the back of your mouth. Posterior teeth include the molars and premolars, which are located behind the canines and incisors..

Removable Appliance: A removable appliance is a dental device that is custom-made for a patient to wear over their teeth in order to treat a malocclusion or other dental issue. A removable appliance can be used to treat a variety of issues, including overbites and underbites, open bites, crossbites, and facial asymmetry.

Separators: Dental separators are thin pieces of metal that are placed in between teeth to prevent damage to the surrounding teeth when instruments like forceps, excavators, and curettes are used.

Space Maintainer: A space maintainer is a permanent dental appliance, used to hold space for the permanent teeth. It is used when spacing or crowding is present in children’s or young adult’s teeth.

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

Wires: Orthodontic wires are often referred to as braces because they can be made out of different materials like stainless steel, nickel-titanium alloys, or NiTi (a nickel-titanium alloy).

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