July 6, 2019 Roanoke Valley Orthodontics

Glossary of orthodontic terms

If you are a new patient, you might hear some terms that are unfamiliar or confusing. This glossary will help you understand some of the most common. If ever you have any questions about your treatment, just ask Dr. Jones and the team at Roanoke Valley Orthodontics.

aligners – clear BPA-free plastic devices that slip-on over all the teeth in a single arch. They can be used in place of braces for alignment of the teeth and bite correction

appliances – orthodontic devices designed to correct the position of teeth or the jaw, which either attach to the teeth or are removable.

archwire – a wire which is used to move the teeth. It is attached to the brackets with the colored o-ties. It is usually changed out at every appointment.

band (orthodontic) – a thin metal ring that is temporarily cemented to a tooth and used to secure and hold orthodontic attachments.

bracket – small orthodontic attachments made from metal or various other materials that hold the archwires in place to move the teeth. Once attached to all teeth, it is referred to as braces.

ceramic brackets – orthodontic brackets made in a shade close to the color of the teeth for a more esthetic and less visible appearance. They are generally made of ceramic.

crowding – when there is not enough space in one of the arches for teeth to align properly

debanding – removal of cemented orthodontic attachments (brackets/braces or bands)

elastics (rubber bands) – elastic bands generally stretch between the upper and lower arches. They are used to correct the bite and align the jaws. Dr. Jones will let you know when the time is appropriate to wear elastics. 

expander an appliance that is temporarily cemented on the upper molars. It is used to widen the upper jaw by expanding the palate, or roof of the mouth. It is most commonly prescribed when there is a crossbite between the two arches or not enough space for the permanent teeth to erupt.

extraction – the removal of a tooth. This is generally prescribed in orthodontic treatment if there is too much crowding or a severe bite discrepancy.

facial (buccal) – refers to the lip or cheek side of the teeth

fixed appliances – an orthodontic appliance that is bonded or cemented to the teeth and cannot be or should not be removed by the patient.

headgear – an appliance that is attached to teeth brackets and then attached around outside of the head which has a strap that goes around the head or chin to help modify jaw growth

Herbst or Forsus appliance – an orthodontic appliance that is cemented to the molars to assist in the correction of an overbite by holding the lower jaw in a forward position

Invisalign – a brand of orthodontic aligner system used to straighten the teeth and align the bite

lingual – refers to the tongue side of the teeth

maxillary – refers to the upper jaw

mandibular – refers to the lower jaw

o-ties – tiny elastic rubberbands that are used to secure the archwires in the braces. They come in a variety of colors that the patient can choose from at every appointment.

orthodontist – a dental specialist who has completed additional 2-3 years of specific training in methods of straightening the teeth, correcting the bite and aligning the jaws

orthognathic surgery – jaw surgery to correct skeletal growth discrepancies and bite alignment

overbite – when there is an excessive vertical overlap of the upper front teeth with the lower front teeth when a person bites

overjet – when the upper front teeth are excessively separated horizontally from the lower front teeth when a person bites

retainer – an orthodontic appliance used to help maintain the corrected position of the teeth after braces or Invisalign, can be fixed or removable

space maintainer – a fixed (temporarily cemented) orthodontic appliance used to hold the position of the teeth so there is no space loss if a primary tooth is extracted or lost prematurely

wax – placed on the brackets and other fixed orthodontic appliances to help prevent irritation of the lips and inside of the mouth during orthodontic treatment