Glossary of Orthodontic Terms

Glossary of 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.

Bracket:  An orthodontic attachment that is secured to a tooth (either by bonding or banding) for the purpose of engaging an arch wire. 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.

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.

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.

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