small portfolio1 small portfolio2 small portfolio3 small portfolio4
themed object
Your online braces guide!
get in touch

Braces Glossary


Below is a list of the more common words used in braces treatment.

Adjustment – An adjustment refers to an appointment type as well as an actual action by the orthodontist. The adjustment of the wires is usually needed to help finish the position and alignment of the teeth. After the wires are bent in a specific way to move the teeth, there is usually an immediate feeling of tightness, followed by soreness about 4-6 hours later (lasting 2-4 days).

Ankylosis – A fusion between the tooth root and the surrounding bone preventing movement with braces. The fusion can be nearly impossible to predict, and can many times not be seen on an x-ray since it may be a pinpoint fusion rather than the entire root.

Band – A part of the braces where a metal band (ring) is fit snug around the back molars. Many orthodontists will use these to provide extra support for the large teeth, or if an appliance such as a headgear or bite corrector is used. The back teeth are also a highly used area of the mouth, so it provides a little extra insurance against breakage. Separators are usually needed 1 week before the bands are placed to provide room between the teeth.

Board Certified – From the American Board of Orthodontics, “A board certified orthodontist is a dentist who has completed an American Dental Association accredited graduate program in the specialty of orthodontics. A dentist who graduates from a specialty program becomes an orthodontic specialist who is eligible to become board certified through the voluntary examination process of The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO). Involvement in the certification process is a demonstration of the orthodontist's pursuit of continued proficiency and excellence.”

Bracket – A part of the braces that is precisely placed on the tooth so that forces can be applied in order to align the teeth and bite.

Canine – Tooth commonly referred to as the “eye tooth”. It is positioned near the corners of the dental arch and functions for guidance of the bite when the teeth are properly positioned. It has a very characteristic shape with a pointy tip.

Cephalometric x-ray – An x-ray usually taken by the orthodontist that displays the patient from the side. It is helpful in the diagnosis of dental and skeletal position, and helps the orthodontist properly observe growth of the jaws.

Class I – A classification describing a bite where the teeth are in the proper front-back relationship

Class II – A classification describing a bite where the lower teeth are behind the upper teeth (an overbite)

Class III – A classification describing a bite where the lower teeth are ahead of the upper teeth (an underbite)

Clear Braces – Braces made from a clear material such as porcelain, ceramic, glass, or plastic. These braces tend not to show as much metal, although the wire is still visible. Porcelain or ceramic is very abrasive to the enamel, so many orthodontists will not place them on the lower teeth if the patient has an overbite.

Crossbite – Normally the upper teeth are positioned on the outside of the lower teeth. When this is reversed, it is called a x-bite

Decalcification – White spots and lines can form on the teeth if they are not brushed and cleaned properly. Bacteria in the mouth feed off of plaque and sugar left on the teeth around the braces. Decalcification is caused by an acid by-product of the bacteria.

Expander – An appliance used to correct a crossbite caused by a narrow upper jaw. An expander is useful at a younger age since the palate has not completely fused together allowing for jaw expansion instead of just tooth widening. Expanders can also be used in adults, however, this will usually require a surgery to release the suture in the palate.

Impacted tooth – A tooth that has not erupted. This can be caused by inadequate space, a tooth is in the way, poor position of the tooth, or other syndromes.

Incisor (central and lateral) – The upper and lower front teeth

Invisalign – This is a company that provides clear aligners to orthodontists. The process of moving teeth involves the same principals as braces (i.e. an applied force results in tooth movement)

Malocclusion – A bite that is not ideal

Molar – A large back tooth. Most people have first, second, and third molars (wisdom teeth)

Orthodontics – The practice of aligning teeth and correcting the bite.

Orthodontist – A dentist that has 2-3 years of additional training in an accredited orthodontic specialty program resulting in a specialist certificate. Orthodontist limit their practice to orthodontics.

Orthognathic Surgery – Jaw surgery necessary in some patients to fully correct the bite.

Osteoblast – A cell in the body that creates bone (as in the course of tooth movement)

Osteoclast – A cell in the body that removes bone (as in the course of tooth movement.

Overbite – Top to bottom overlap of the front teeth. The lower teeth are not visible when a patient has a very deep overbite.

Overjet – Front to back overlap of the teeth. A severe overjet is sometimes described as “buck teeth”.

Panoramic x-ray – An x-ray usually taken by an orthodontist to evaluate the teeth and jaws. The x-ray spins around the patient and shows an overall view of all the teeth.

Premolar – Teeth behind the canines and before the large back molars. If extractions are needed for braces, these are commonly used for that purpose

Records – Usually taken before and after braces. Normally consist of a panoramic and cephalometric x-ray, impressions of the teeth, and photographs of the teeth and face

Retainer (Removable and Permanent) – Appliances designed to hold the position of the teeth after the braces are removed. Limited tooth movement can also be performed with some retainers.

Separators – Small rubber bands that are flossed between back teeth to separate adjacent teeth. The space is needed to properly fit bands, which are rings that fit around the teeth (usually on the molars)

Underbite – A front upper teeth are behind the lower front teeth (crossbite). This is usually seen in patients with a Class III malocclusion. May be a result of tooth and/or jaw position.

White Spots – Areas on the teeth that have been affected by poor brushing. Otherwise known as decalcification


slide up button