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Orthodontic Dictionary

Archwire: A wire that is affixed to the crowns of two more teeth to guide necessary tooth movement.

Band (Orthodontic): A thin, metal band, usually made of stainless steel, which is custom designed to closely fit the contours of the tooth and then cemented into place. Bands provide an anchor for other orthodontic attachments, such as brackets.

Bracket: An orthodontic attachment that is bonded to a tooth to serve as a fastener that holds the archwire in place. Brackets can be made of metal, ceramic, or plastic.

Ceramic Brackets: A type of bracket that’s fabricated from materials such as crystalline, alumina, tooth-shade or clear-synthetic sapphire, all of which are aesthetically more appealing than conventional metal braces.

Crowding: A condition that occurs when the teeth have an inadequate amount of space to grow into their normal position, leading to misalignment of the gum line.

Debanding: The debonding process where cemented orthodontic bands are removed from the teeth.

Elastics: A small rubber band attachment that hooks onto the molar band and upper ball hook to gently force individual tooth movement in a prescribed direction. Elastics can be found and applied in various colors for aesthetic appeal.

Gingiva: More commonly known as the gums, the fibrous tissue surrounding the teeth that connect the periodontal tissue fibers and oral mucosa.

Headgear: A removable extraoral device that straps around the back of the head and gently guides the expansion of the face and jaw. Most commonly used in pediatric orthodontics, the device provides anchorage and forces tooth growth and movement.

Herbst Appliance: A flexible orthodontic device designed to primarily correct overbite problems. This appliance can be removable or fixed, depending on the severity of the patient’s overbite.

Imaging: An X-ray process that provides two and three-dimensional representations of the tooth structure.

Lingual: A generic term used to describe oral surfaces near the tongue.

Lingual Appliances: Any type of orthodontic device that is fixed to the lingual surface of the teeth.

Maxillary: Any tooth, dental restoration, dental device, or facial structure pertaining to the maxilla or upper jaw.

Orthodontist: A dental specialist who has completed advanced post-doctoral coursework in orthodontics over two or more years.

Orthognathic Surgery: Also known as orthodontic therapy, a procedure that alters the alignment of the teeth and/or supporting bones.

Overbite: A condition characterized by the overlapping upper teeth that overlap the lower teeth, often causing excessive wear and eruption of the upper, lower, or both incisors.

Radiograph: Also known as an X-ray, an imaging process produced by ionizing radiation.

Retainer: An orthodontic device that follows the active phase of orthodontic treatment to stabilize the teeth in their new position. This device can either be fixed or removable.

Retention: The passive phase of orthodontic treatment during which a retainer must be worn.

Straight Wire Appliance: An orthodontic appliance with the ideal angulation incorporated into each individual bracket for each tooth to minimize archwire bending. Once brackets and molar tubes are bonded into their ideal position, this device fits into the bracket slots with a simple twist of the first archwire.

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