Orthodontic Dictionary

This is a list, with definitions, of new words you will be hearing rather frequently in our office throught out your treatment. We would suggest you refer to this from time to time as treatment goes along, so that you can gradually add to your knowledge of orthodontics.

IMPRESSIONS – We use a soft material which is placed in a small tray that fits up over your teeth. In a matter of a few moments, your teeth leave a print in this material, similar to your handprint in soft sand on the beach.

MODELS – These are the white plaster records of your teeth which result from making the impression we have just described. We pour the white Plaster of Paris into your impression, the plaster sets, and voila, a model of your teeth is formed!

HEADFILM – This is an x-ray that is taken at the lab of your head, from the side and sometimes from the front. This allows us to measure the growth of your face. Small plastic rods rest in your ear, on either side, as this x-ray is taken, to hold your head in the exact position needed for the x-ray picture.

SEPARATION – Many times, it is necessary to place small rubber modules between your teeth to help make room for the placing of your future braces. This often may feel as if you have a piece of meat caught between your teeth. This sensation passes quickly as your teeth move apart.

PROGRESS PANOREX – This is merely an x-ray, which will be needed, in order to study the progress of your orthodontic care.

APPLIANCES – This is what we call your braces. Your appliances are made up of such things as bands, archwires, brackets, tiewires, hooks and tubes.

BANDS – These are thin, metal rings that we cement onto certain teeth.

BRACKETS – These are small attachments which are bonded directly to your teeth.

ARCHWIRE – This is the main wire that fits into the brackets or other attachments on the outside of your teeth. This is fastened to your brackets by tiewires, or small plastic rings. The archwire provides a track along which your teeth move.

HOOK – This is a small additional attachment that is placed on your archwire. It is usually used to attach elastics on occasion, a headgear, directly to the archwire. Should one of these break between appointments, notify our office immediately.

PLASTIC TIES – These little rings, or colored modules, attach your archwire to the brackets or are used to close teeth together.

T.B.I. – Tooth Brush Instruction – We will give you instruction on the correct way to brush your teeth now that you have braces. It then becomes your job to keep your mouth bright and clean, not only for your comfort, but for the health of your mouth.

RETAINER – Retain means to hold. These are the removable plastic appliances that we often place when your permanent braces are removed. This may be used to close small spaces between your teeth, make minor movements of your teeth, or merely hold your correction once it has been completed.

ELASTICS – During phases of treatment, we may have you wear rubber bands that hook from one tooth to another, or one jaw to the other. These are merely an activating force by which we move teeth.

HEADGEAR – This is the means by which we use the back of the neck, or top of the head, to pull from the outside to move the teeth inside your mouth. By using these outside forces, we find we can help in changing the way your face grows, as well as moving your teeth in a much easier manner for you.

NECKSTRAP – This is the name sometimes given to the rest of your headgear, the outside part that fits around the back of your neck.

MALOCCLUSION – Malocclusion = crooked teeth. Mal = bad; occlusion = relation of teeth. Usually, then, a malocclusion is teeth that are chewing in a poor relationship with each other. This is the basic reason for orthodontic treatment.

CROSSBITE – Nature intended that all of your teeth fit in an orderly manner. That is, all of the upper teeth fitting slightly on the outside of your lower teeth. So, when a lower tooth slips to the outside of an upper tooth it is called a crossbite.

OVERBITE – This is merely a term to describe the upper teeth biting over the lower teeth. Some overbite is normal. Too much overbite can cause severe problems and facial changes that are not particularly good.