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Orthodontics Glossary

Aligner: A plastic appliance used in Invisalign treatment to move teeth. Aligners fit snugly over teeth and are worn for one or two weeks.

Appliance: A generic term for the tools for moving teeth, may be fixed or removable.

Archwire: The metal wire attached to brackets that provides force for traditional braces and Six Month Smiles

Attachment: In Invisalign, an attachment is a small plastic nodule that is bonded to a tooth to facilitate and control movement.

Band: Metal bands that are sometimes placed around teeth to help anchor appliances.

Buccal: Of or relating to the cheeks. This is used to describe anything in the zone between your teeth and your cheeks.

Buccal Tube: A metal tube that is attached to bands to serve as an attachment site for archwires and other appliances.

Bracket: The part of braces that attaches to the tooth. It can clamp to the archwire or be held on with elastics.

Cone Beam CT: A type of computed tomography used to get 3-D images of teeth and bones. It is low radiation and open so there’s no claustrophobic feeling.

Crossbite: When the two dental arches have an inconsistent relationship to one another, with the upper teeth sometimes outside of and sometimes inside the lower arch.

Elastics: Elastics are rubber bands, essentially, that can be used for many different purposes in orthodontics. They can be used to provide additional forces for controlling tooth movements.

Habit Corrector: An appliance worn by a child in the Healthy Start system to eliminate or improve current oral habits that can cause orthodontic problems.

Healthy Start: An orthodontic system that uses early intervention to reshape the jaw and improve breathing among children. It uses a removable appliance and exercises to utilize the muscles in moving teeth.

Ligating Module: A small plastic piece that holds the archwire to the brackets.

Lingual: Of or relating to the tongue. This term is also used to describe anything on the inside of the tooth arch.

Mandibular: Of or relating to the lower jaw

Maxillary: Of or relating to the upper jaw

Overbite: When upper teeth close in front of lower teeth if the jaw is fully closed. A slight overbite is considered normal.

Overjet: When upper teeth are significantly over lower teeth, and point outward instead of down.

Panoramic X-Rays: X-rays that can picture the entire upper and lower arch of teeth in a single image.

Phase 1 Treatment: Treatment before all adult teeth have emerged.

Phase 2 Treatment: Treatment after all adult teeth have emerged.

Retainer: A retainer is a device that helps hold your teeth in place after orthodontic treatment. Your retainer helps your bones regrow around your teeth so that they will not return to their previous positions. Retainers should be worn all day and night at first, but then shift to wear only at night. Retainers are normally removable, but they can be fixed if compliance is a problem.

Underbite: When upper teeth are behind lower teeth if the jaw is closed.