Orthodontic Dictionary

Orthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry which deals with treatment of irregularities in the jaws and teeth. The commonly used terminologies in orthodontics are listed below.

Acid Etch: The procedure of applying weak acid onto the tooth surface to prepare it for brackets (braces).

Anterior: Front

Appliances: This is any device attached to the teeth, to move the teeth, or change the position of the jaw.

Arch: Upper or lower jaw

Archwire: The metal wire attached to the brackets that are used to move the teeth.

Band: A metal ring that is cemented to the teeth for anchorage.

Braces: A fixed orthodontic appliance usually comprised of brackets, bands and wires.

Brackets: A tiny metal ceramic part that is affixed to each tooth on the arch. This serves to fasten the archwire.

Bruxism: Excessive grinding of the teeth, usually during sleep

Buccal: The cheek surface inside the mouth

Buccal Tube: A small metal part of the bracket welded to the outside of the molar band; It contains slots to hold archwire, lip bumper, headgear and face bows.

Cephalometric Radiograph: A lateral (side view) X-ray of the head that shows alignment of teeth

Chain: A series of elastic O-rings connected to hold each bracket to stabilize the archwire in place and move the teeth

Class I Malocclusion: Malocclusion with proper molar relationship and teeth that are crowded together, spaced apart, overbite, open bite, posterior cross bite or anterior cross bite

Class II Malocclusion: Malocclusion with upper front teeth protruding or due to lower teeth and jaw positioned back, relatively to upper teeth and jaw

Class III Malocclusion: Malocclusion with lower front teeth protruding or due to lower teeth and jaw positioned ahead, relatively to upper teeth and jaw

Closed Bite: Also, known as deep bite, it occurs when upper front teeth overlap the bottom front teeth excessively

Comprehensive Treatment: A complete orthodontic treatment performed to correct malocclusion

Congenitally Missing Teeth: A genetic occurrence in which an expected number of permanent teeth do not develop

Cross bite: Upper posterior teeth erupt and function inside or outside of the arch in the lower posterior teeth. Lower anterior teeth erupt and function in front of the upper anterior teeth

Crown Angulation/Inclination: Tooth movement where the root of the tooth is tipped forward or backward to correct the angle of the crown

De-banding: Removal of orthodontic bands from the teeth

De-bonding: Removal of affixed orthodontic brackets from the teeth

Diagnostic Records: The information of the patient which may include thorough patient history, visual examination of teeth and radiographs, etc.

Digital Radiograph: Digital X-rays of the teeth which can be transmitted via computer

Ectopic Eruption: A tooth or teeth that erupt in an abnormal position

Elastics: Rubber bands that provide individual tooth movement or jaw alignment during certain treatments

Eruption: Process by which teeth come into the mouth

Extraction: Removal of a tooth

Face bow: A wire used with a night brace or headgear to move the upper first molars back, creating space for crowded or protrusive front teeth

Fiberotomy: A surgical procedure used to detach the fibers of attachment around the tooth

Fixed Appliances: An orthodontic appliance that is bonded or cemented to the teeth and cannot or should not be removed by the patient

Frenectomy: The surgical removal or repositioning of the frenulum (thin folds of mucous membrane enclosed with muscle fibers)

Gingiva: Gums or soft tissue around the teeth

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

Herbst Appliance: An appliance which is used to move the lower jaw forward

Impaction: A tooth that does not erupt or erupts partially

Impressions: Process of making a mound of the teeth

Interproximal Reduction: Removal of small amount of enamel between the teeth to reduce the width; also, known as reproximation, enamel reduction, slenderizing, stripping or selective reduction

Labial: The surface of the teeth in both upper and lower arches that face the lips

Lingual: The tongue side of the teeth in both arches

Lip Bumper: A wire device used to move the lower molars back and lower front teeth forward, creating room for crowded front teeth

Lip Incompetence: The inability to close the lips together at rest, due to protrusive front teeth

Malocclusion: Teeth that do not fit together properly

Mandible: Lower jaw

Maxilla: Upper jaw

Mixed Dentition: The dental developmental stage in children (age 6-12years) when they have a mix of baby teeth and permanent teeth

Open Bite: A malocclusion in which teeth do not make contact with each other

Orthodontics: specialized branch of dentistry which deals with treatment of malocclusions

Panoramic Radiograph: An X-ray that shows all teeth and both jaws on one film

Palatal Expander: A fixed or removable appliance used to make the upper jaw wider

Periodontal: Refers to the hard and soft tissues or supporting structures around the teeth

Plaque: A colorless, sticky film of bacteria, food particles and saliva that forms in the mouth and causes tooth decay and gum disease

Posterior: Back

Removable Appliance: An orthodontic appliance that can be removed and reinserted

Retainer: A fixed or removable appliance worn after braces are removed

Safety Strap: It prevents the face bow of the headgear from becoming loose and causing injury

Separators: A small wire loop placed between the teeth to create room for placing the bands

Serial Extraction: Selective removal of certain baby teeth and/or permanent teeth for a period to create space for permanent teeth

Space Maintainer: A fixed appliance used to hold space for an unerupted permanent tooth after the loss of a baby tooth prematurely, due to accident or decay

Supernumerary Teeth: A genetic occurrence of more teeth than the usual number. These can be malformed or could have erupted abnormally

Tightening the Braces: The process that is recommended every 3-6 weeks for adjustments of wires in the braces

Tongue Crib: A fixed device used to help patient stop habits of undesirable tongue forces exerting on teeth and bone that supports the teeth

Tongue Thrust: A person’s tongue pushes against the teeth when swallowing. These forces generated by the tongue move the teeth and bone leading to an anterior or posterior open bite.

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

Wires: Also, referred as archwires, they are attached to the brackets to move the teeth