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Orthodontic Glossary

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.

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.

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 with which they were attached from your teeth

elastics (rubber bands)

Used to move teeth in prescribed directions. If needed, instructions will be given as to how to wear them and how often. This is where the patient’s involvement is extremely important, as it is up to him or her to take them on and off.

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 side of the head) for growth modification, tooth movement and anchorage.

Herbst appliance

Fixed or removable appliance designed commonly for overbite problems and more.

imaging

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

lingual

Of or pertaining to the tongue. A term used to describe surfaces and directions toward the tongue.

lingual appliances

Orthodontic appliances fixed to the lingual surface of the teeth.

maxillary

Of or pertaining to the upper 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 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, usually measured perpendicular to the occlusal plane.

radiograph

A permanent image, typically on film, produced by ionizing radiation. Sometimes called an X-ray after the most common source of image-producing radiation.

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.

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.