Orthodontic Dictionary

Southern California Family Dentistry

Southern California Family Dentistry - Whittier, Lake Forest, San Clemente - Braces

Anterior Teeth: The top and bottom six front teeth on each arch.

Appliance: Any orthodontic device that moves or retains teeth or alters the positioning of the jaw.

Arch: The entire jaw (upper or lower).

Archwire: The metal wire that connects orthodontic brackets, which directs the teeth into their new alignment.

Band with bracket: Metal bands (rings) that are typically cemented around the back teeth.

Braces: Fixed orthodontic devices created to align teeth.

Brackets: The tiny metal, ceramic or clear brackets that are attached to each individual tooth on the arch.

Brushing: An extremely important part of home dental care. Orthodontists recommend patients with braces to brush after every meal, in order to eliminate bacteria and plaque.

Buccal: The outer (cheek) side of posterior teeth in the top and bottom arches.

Cephalometric Radiograph: A side x-ray of the face and head used to show progression.

Chain: Bands connected together and inserted around the brackets to maintain the archwire and smoothly close spaces.

Class I Malocclusion: There is some spacing or overcrowding problems with the other teeth.

Class II Malocclusion: There is an overbite, which usually occurs when the upper teeth are arranged further than the lower teeth.

Class III Malocclusion: There is an underbite, which usually occurs when the jawbone is large or the maxillary bone is short.

Closed Bite: The top front teeth completely overlap the bottom teeth, leading to a deep overbite.

Congenitally Missing Teeth: Genetic factors cause some permanent teeth fail to develop and erupt.

Crossbite: A type of malocclusion where a tooth (or teeth) has a more buccal or lingual position.

De-banding: The removal of orthodontic bands from the teeth.

De-bonding: The removal of affixed orthodontic brackets from the teeth.

Diagnostic Records: Medical records, dental history, radiographs, panoramic radiographs, bite molds and intraoral/extraoral photographs used to determine, plan and apply treatments.

Digital Radiograph: Digital x-rays of the teeth that can be viewed, stored and addressed via computer.

Elastics: Some braces may require that elastic rubber bands be attached to apply further pressure to tooth/teeth.

Eruption: The process when teeth surface through the gums inside the mouth.

Fixed Orthodontic Appliances: Orthodontic appliances which are attached to the teeth by the orthodontist and cannot be removed by the patient.

Flossing: The removal of debris and plaque from above and below the gumline.

Functional Appliances: Orthodontic appliances that use the muscle movement created by swallowing, eating and speaking to smoothly move and align the teeth and jaws.

Gingiva: The gums and soft tissue that are around the teeth.

Headgear: A removable device comprised of a brace and external archwire, which helps growth and promotes tooth movement.

Impressions: An orthodontist takes teeth impressions to learn exactly how a patient’s teeth fit together.

Interceptive Treatment: Treatment performed on children who have a mixture of adult and baby teeth.

Invisalign®: Removable dental aligner that is completely transparent.

Ligating Modules: An elastic ring that helps secure the archwire to the bracket.

Ligation: Safely securing the archwire to the brackets.

Lingual Side: The side of the teeth that is closest to the tongue.

Malocclusion: Refers to teeth that do not fit together correctly and cause a bad bite.

Mandible: The lower jaw.

Maxilla: The upper jaw.

Mouthguard: A removable plastic or rubber device that protects teeth and braces from sport-related injuries.

Open Bite: Upper and lower teeth fail to make contact with each other. This malocclusion is generally classified as anterior or posterior.

Orthodontics: The unique branch of dentistry focused on diagnosing, preventing and solving malocclusions and jaw irregularities.

Orthodontist: A dental specialist who prevents, diagnoses and treats jaw irregularities and malocclusions. These dentists must enroll in an extended two- or three-year university to gain extensive clinical experience and education.

Palatal Expander: A removable or fixed device designed to expand the palate in order create room on either the upper or lower arch.

Panoramic Radiograph: An extraoral (external) x-ray, which displays the teeth and jaws.

Plaque: The sticky film of saliva, food particles and bacteria that contributes to gum disease and tooth decay.

Posterior Teeth: Back teeth.

Removable Appliance: An orthodontic brace or device that can be removed by the patient. It is only effective if it is worn for the designated amount of time each day.

Separators: A wire loop or elastic ring placed between the teeth to create room for the subsequent placement of bands or orthodontic appliance.

Space Maintainer: A fixed appliance used to hold space for permanent adult tooth. Typically used when a baby tooth has been lost earlier than expected.

Wax: Orthodontic relief wax is a homecare remedy used to alleviate irritations caused by braces.

Wires: Attached to the brackets to gently move the teeth into proper placement.

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