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.

Orthodontic Instruments

Band Remover: A special plier that is used to remove orthodontic bands from teeth.

Band Pusher: An instrument that helps the dentist fit the band to the tooth.

Bite Stick: A device the dentist uses to help put on bands. The band is placed on the tooth and the patient bites on the bite stick to help seat the band.

Cheek Retractors: Small plastic pieces used to hold back the lips and cheeks for photographs.

Curing Light: A special high intensity light used to cure the bonding material that holds the bracket to your tooth.

Distal End Cutter: A special plier used to cut off the ends of arch wires while in the mouth.

Explorer: A hook-like fine pointed instrument used in examining the teeth.

Interproximal Stripper: A device used to remove enamel from between teeth to create extra space for crowded teeth.

Pin and Ligature Cutter: A special plier used to cut arch wires, ligatures, etc.

Scaler: A tool with a curved sharp hook on one end used to remove excess cement.

Orthodontic Procedures

Banding: The process of cementing orthodontic bands on teeth.

Bonding: The process of attaching brackets to teeth using a special adhesive.

Cephalometric X-Rays: A lateral (side view) X-ray of the head that shows the alignment of the teeth, and the relationship of the teeth and jaw. It also shows any skeletal growth discrepancies.

Conditioning: A procedure where a solution is applied to the teeth to prepare them for brackets. The conditioning by the liquid assists with the bonding of brackets.

Debanding: The removal of the cemented orthodontic bands.

Debonding: The removal of the bonded brackets from your teeth.

Extraoral Photograph: Facial photos.

Impressions: The office procedure to make models of teeth. A horseshoe-shaped tray is filled with alginate, a soft material that hardens on the teeth, and the tray is placed over the teeth. This results in an imprint of the teeth. A lab technician then pours plaster into the impression to produce the plaster models of teeth.

Interceptive/Preventive Orthodontics: Treatment usually done between the ages of four and eight. The goal of interceptive orthodontic treatment is to make corrections, so that later, orthodontic treatment is easier and less complicated.

Interproximal Stripping: Removing enamel from the sides of some teeth. This procedure is performed to create space for crowded teeth.

Ligation: A process where an arch wire is “tied in” to the brackets on the teeth.

Orthodontics: The treatment performed to correct malocclusions and to give you a great smile.

Panoramic X-Ray: An X-ray taken by a machine that rotates around the head and produces a picture of your teeth, jaws and other important information on one film.

Tightening Braces: An appointment that occurs every four to six weeks. Adjustments, changes in the wires, and retying them are done.

Wax Bite: A piece of wax is placed in the mouth and the patient bites into it. This enables the technician to take the models and relate the upper and lower impressions.