Ortho Dictionary


Appliance: Any hardware (usually fabricated by a laboratory) that is placed in the mouth (removable or attached to your teeth) which moves your teeth or changes the shape or position of your jaw.

Archwire: A wire inserted into the slots of the braces, causing or guiding tooth movement. It is changed multiple times during the course of treatment.

Band: 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 between the bracket and your tooth created by orthodontic cement.

Bracket (brace): A metal or ceramic orthodontic attachment that is cemented or bonded to a tooth for the purpose of holding an archwire.

Cephalometric X-ray: A profile X-ray of your head used by your orthodontist to evaluate the relative positions of your jaws and teeth, and to evaluate the growth of the face.

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

Debanding (debonding): The removal of cemented and bonded orthodontic bands and brackets.

Elastics (rubber bands): a small rubber band that attaches from one hook on your bands or brackets to another. They generate forces used to move teeth in the prescribed direction.

Elastic Ties (O-rings): small circular rubber bands that fit around your brackets to hold the archwire in place. They come in a variety of colors.

Forsus Appliance: Fixed appliance that is worn while in braces to correct bite issues more.

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

Headgear: Generic term for extra oral traction device for growth modification, tooth movement and anchorage. It has a facebow that attaches to the headgear tube (a round hollow attachment on your first molar bands) and a safety release strap that is attached around the back side of the neck or head.

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

Hook: A welded or removable arm (hook) that is on your brackets and to which elastics (rubber bands) are attached.

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

Impressions: The process of making a mold or model of your teeth using a soft doughy material called alginate. They are used to create a plaster or 3D model of your teeth for further evaluation

Invisalign®: An invisible alternative to traditional braces. Invisalign straightens your teeth with a series of clear customized aligners. Your teeth must meet certain criteria to qualify for Invisalign therapy.

Ligature (steel tie): A thin wire that wraps around your bracket and holds your archwire into it.

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

Lip Bumper: An intraoral device made of a heavy wire and a plastic bumper to hold the molars back on the lower jaw.

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

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

Mouth Guard: A rubbery device that protects your teeth and mouth from injury when you participate in sports or rigorous activities.

Night Guard: a hard plastic device, fabricated by your dentist, to be worn at nights to prevent wear of the enamel, relax your lower jaw into a neutral position, and prevent facial muscle soreness

O-rings: small circular rubber band that fits around your bracket to hold the archwire in place. They come in a variety of colors.

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. These procedures are performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Overbite: Vertical overlapping of upper teeth over lower teeth, usually measured perpendicular to the occlusal plane.

Overjet: Horizontal protrusion of the upper teeth beyond the lower teeth, usually measured parallel to the occlusal plane.

Palatal Expander (Rapid Palatal Expander or RPE): A metallic device that widens your upper jaw.

Panoramic X-ray: An X-ray that is captured by the machine rotating around your head to take pictures of your teeth, jaws, and midface.

Powerchain: Small rubber bands that are linked together and are placed around brackets to help close spaces between teeth.

Retainer: Any orthodontic appliance that is worn after braces are removed. It is 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 or Spacer: A small rubber ring that is flossed between the back teeth. It creates space between your teeth before the bands are fitted.

Steel Tie: A thin wire that wraps around your bracket and holds your archwire into it.

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.

Wax: Orthodontic wax is used to prevent your braces from irritating your cheeks and/or lips.