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Orthodontic Dictionary

Below are some commonly used terms in orthodontics explained. If you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

Anterior Teeth: Refers to the front six upper and lower teeth on each arch.

Appliance: Any orthodontic device used to move or retain teeth, or to alter the positioning of the jaw.

Arch: Refers to the entire upper or lower jaw.

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

Band with bracket: Metal bands or rings that are cemented around the back teeth.

Braces: Fixed orthodontic appliances designed to align teeth.

Brackets: Tiny metal, ceramic, or clear brackets that are affixed to each individual tooth on the arch.

Brushing: An important part of home dental care. Orthodontists recommend brushing after every meal and snack to eliminate bacteria and plaque.

Buccal: Refers to the outer (cheek) side of posterior teeth in the upper and lower arches.

Cephalometric Radiograph: A side x-ray of the face and head used to assess growth and development.

Chain: Elastics connected together and placed around the brackets to stabilize the archwire and close spaces.

Class I Malocclusion: Molars are correctly aligned, but there may be anterior/posterior crossbite, openbite, or overcrowding in the arches.

Class II Malocclusion: Commonly known as an overbite, where the upper front teeth are positioned further forward than the lower teeth.

Class III Malocclusion: Known as an underbite, where the lower front teeth are positioned further forward than the upper front teeth.

Closed Bite: When the upper front teeth completely overlap the bottom teeth, resulting in a deep overbite.

Congenitally Missing Teeth: Permanent teeth that fail to develop and erupt due to genetic factors.

Crossbite: A malocclusion where the upper back teeth bite inside or outside the lower back teeth, or the lower front teeth bite in front of the upper front teeth.

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

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

Diagnostic Records: Records used to assess, plan, and implement treatments, including medical and dental history, radiographs, bite molds, and intraoral/extraoral photographs.

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

Elastics: Rubber bands attached to braces to exert additional pressure on individual or groups of teeth.

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

Fixed Orthodontic Appliances: Appliances that are affixed to the teeth by the orthodontist and cannot be removed by the patient.

Flossing: An essential part of home care that removes debris and plaque from above and below the gumline.

Functional Appliances: Appliances that utilize muscle movement created by swallowing, eating, and speaking to gently align the teeth and jaws.

Gingiva: Refers to the gums and soft tissue around the teeth.

Headgear: A removable appliance consisting of a brace and external archwire used to modify growth and promote tooth movement.

Impressions: Teeth impressions taken to assess how a patient’s teeth fit together.

Interceptive Treatment: Treatment performed on children who have a mixture of adult and baby teeth. Early treatment can help reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment in the future.

Invisalign®: A newer, removable type of transparent dental aligner that doesn’t interfere with eating as it can be removed. However, not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.

Ligating Modules: Elastic rings shaped like a donut that help secure the

archwire to the bracket.

Ligation: The process of securing the archwire to the brackets.

Lingual Side: The side of the teeth closest to the tongue in both arches.

Malocclusion: Refers to teeth that do not fit together correctly, also known as a “bad bite.”

Mandible: The lower jaw.

Maxilla: The upper jaw.

Mouthguard: A removable plastic or rubber device used to protect teeth and braces during physical activities or sports.

Open Bite: When the upper and lower teeth fail to make contact with each other. This malocclusion is usually classified as anterior or posterior.

Orthodontics: The dental specialty concerned with diagnosing, preventing, and correcting malocclusions and jaw irregularities.

Orthodontist: A dental specialist who prevents, diagnoses, and treats jaw irregularities and malocclusions. Orthodontists undergo two to three additional years of college after dental school and complete a residency program.

Palatal Expander: A removable or fixed device used to expand the palate and create space on either the upper or lower arch.

Panoramic Radiograph: An external x-ray that shows the teeth and jaws.

Plaque: A sticky film consisting of saliva, food particles, and bacteria that contribute to gum disease and tooth decay.

Posterior Teeth: Refers to the back teeth.

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

Separators: Wire loops or elastic rings placed between the teeth to create space for subsequent placement of bands or other orthodontic appliances.

Space Maintainer: A fixed appliance used to hold space for a permanent (adult) tooth. This is usually used when a baby tooth is lost earlier than expected.

Wax: Orthodontic relief wax used to alleviate irritations caused by braces.

Wires: Wires attached to the brackets to gently move the teeth into proper alignment

We now have 2 locations for your convenience

From cosmetic dentistry to dental implants, Hastings Dental Studio is dedicated to providing the dental services you need. With years of experience and genuine hospitality, we prioritize the care of your smile in a welcoming office environment. Our passionate team is eager to meet you and establish a relationship that you and your family can rely on for years to come. Don't wait – call us today at (604) 416-5444 to schedule your next appointment at our warm and welcoming Vancouver dental office. You can also reach us by email at [email protected] or fill out our convenient contact form below. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Hastings Dental Studio

2652 East Hastings St,
VancouverBritish Columbia V5K 1Z6

Mon                       11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Tues/Fri                   9:30 am to 5:30 pm
Wed/Thurs           11:00 am to 7:00 pm
Sat                            9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Sun                         Closed

(604) 251-5969


Hastings Dental Centre

2420 East Hastings St,
VancouverBritish Columbia V5K 1Z1

Mon                       11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Tues/Fri                   9:30 am to 5:30 pm
Wed/Thurs           11:00 am to 7:00 pm
Sat                            9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Sun                         Closed

(604) 251-5969