Specializing in Smiles

Ortho 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.

bond

The seal created by orthodontic cement that holds your appliances in place.

bonding

The process of attaching brackets to your teeth using special orthodontic cement.

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.

cephalometric xray

An xray of your head which shows the relative positions and growth of the face, jaws and teeth.

ceramic brackets

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

coil spring

A spring that fits between your brackets and over your archwire to open space between your teeth. Sometimes theses springs can be stretched to close space too.

crowding

Dental malalignment caused by inadequate space for the teeth.

debanding

The removal of cemented orthodontic bands.

elastics (rubber bands)

Used to move teeth in prescribed direction (commonly connected to molar band and upper ball hook). Found in numerous colors for better appearance.

elastic tie (o-ring)

The tiny rubber band that fits around your bracket to hold the archwire in place. You may refer to them as "colors".

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.

impressions

The process of making a model of your teeth by biting into a soft material that hardens into a mold of your teeth.

ligation

The process of attaching an archwire to the brackets on your teeth.

ligature

A think wire that holds your archwire into your bracket.

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.

lip bumper

An appliance that holds back the lower molars to provide more space for your other teeth.

maxillary

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

mouthguard

A device that protects your mouth from injury when you participate in sports or rigorous activities.

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.

palatal expander (RPE)

A device that makes your upper jaw wider.

panoramic xray

An xray that rotates around your head to take a picture of your teeth, jaws and other facial areas.

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.

separator (spacer)

A small rubber ring that creates space between your teeth before the bands are attached.

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.