Orthodontic Terms

Archwire

A wire engaged in orthodontic attachments, affixed to the crowns of two or more teeth and 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 archwire is then threaded through the attachment.

Bracket

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

Ceramic brackets

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

Class I

The jaws are proportional to one another and the molar teeth and canines fit well together.  Crowding or other malocclusions may be present.

Class II

The mandible is undersized relative to the upper jaw.  Commonly the upper incisors appear protrusive or “buck toothed”.

Class III

The mandible is oversized relative to the upper jaw.  Commonly causes an underbite or “bulldog bite”. <

Cleft lip or cleft palate

A birth defect forms when the branchial processes fail to fuse with the nasal process very early in gestation.  A cleft lip normally forms just to the side of the philtrum or the groove in the upper lip.  It may stop there or extend all the way back through the palate to the uvula.  A series of plastic surgery, orthodontic and oral surgical procedures will be required from infancy through young adulthood.

Crossbite

In a posterior crossbite the upper jaw is too narrow to fit the lower jaw.  The lower teeth overlap the upper teeth.  In an anterior crossbite the lower teeth protrude out beyond the upper teeth.  (bulldog bite).  In either case, orthodontic treatment is required because these conditions will cause excessive wear and cheek or lip biting.

Crowding

Dental malalignment caused by inadequate space for the teeth.

Debanding

The removal of cemented orthodontic bands.

Debonding

The removal of the brackets and the adhesive from teeth.

Deciduous teeth

Commonly called baby teeth or primary teeth.

Extractions

Removing or pulling unrestorable teeth or crowded teeth

Elastics (rubber bands)

Used to move teeth in prescribed directions.

Functional orthodontics

The orthodontic technique to modify jaw growth to harmonize the shape of the lower jaw to the upper jaw.  The best scientific research is not overly supportive of the effectiveness of functional orthodontics.  It will be used in this office for specific, achievable goals.

Gingiva

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

Headgear

Generic term for extraoral traction (attached around the back of the head) for growth modification, tooth movement and anchorage.  Commonly used if the top teeth stick too far out beyond the bottom teeth.

Imaging

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

Impaction

A tooth is blocked from erupting into its normal position in the mouth.

invisible braces

Refers to several variations of orthodontics that are less visible than traditional metal braces.  Ceramic brackets, Invisalign, and lingual braces are included in this category.

Lingual

Pertaining to the tongue. A term used to describe surfaces and directions toward the tongue.

Lingual Appliances

Orthodontic appliances fixed to the lingual surfaces of the teeth.

Malocclusion

An oral condition characterized by teeth and/or jaws that do not fit together in an ideal manner.  May be unaesthetic or lead to abnormal wear of the teeth and difficulty maintaining proper hygiene.

Maxillary - maxilla

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

Mandibular – mandible

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

Orthodontist

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

Orthognathic surgery

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

Overbite

Vertical overlapping of upper teeth over lower teeth.

Overjet

Horizontal overlap of the front teeth.  (commonly called overbite or buck teeth)

Primary teeth

Deciduous or baby teeth

Phase 1 orthodontic treatment or early orthodontic treatment

Treatment in the range of 7 to 11 years when there is a mixture of primary and permanent teeth.  In this office, normally reserved for crossbites or the management of erupting teeth in a crowded situation.  Intended to treat a specific problem and not all orthodontic concerns will be addressed.  A second phase of treatment is to be expected.

Phase 2 orthodontic treatment

The follow on treatment when an earlier Phase 1 treatment has been accomplished.

Prognathic

One jaw is too large compared to the other jaw.  Most commonly the mandible is too large which leads to an anterior crossbite or “bulldog” bite.

Radiograph

A permanent image, produced by ionizing radiation.  Sometimes called an X-ray after the most common source of image-producing radiation.  Cephalometric and panoramic radiographs are typically taken for orthodontic records.

Retainer

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

Retention

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

Retrognathic

One jaw is undersized compared to the other jaw.  Most commonly the mandible is undersized which makes it appear that the upper teeth protrude too far out.

Slenderizing

An alternative to extraction of teeth to make room for alignment of crooked teeth.  Instead of removing a tooth, a small amount of enamel is removed from several teeth.

Sleep apnea

A medical condition characterized by long pauses in breathing during sleep.  Can lead to serious consequences ranging from poor sleep/chronic fatigue to death.  Treatment may range from changing sleep habits to positive pressure oxygen to surgical treatment.  For serious cases not amenable to more conservative treatment, the orthodontist and oral-maxillofacial surgeon can work together to position the jaws forward to position the tongue away from the airway.

Straight wire appliance

A variation of the edgewise appliance in which brackets are angulated to minimize multiple archwire bends.  Brackets and molar tubes have specific orientation in three planes of space.

TMJ or temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD)

A variety of interrelated conditions that involve the jaw joint and the associated muscles, ligaments, nerves and fascia.  Can include chronic or acute pain conditions, and disruption of mandibular function.  Certain malocclusions can predispose to TMD but it is not thought this is the primary cause.


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