FAQs & Other Info > Glossary of Orthodontic Terms

Adjustment
An appointment to evaluat your progress. We do several things such as change wires, make adjustments to wires or add elastics. It is vital you keep these appointments so Dr Coveney can keep your treatment on track.

Anodontia 
Congenital absence of all the teeth

Anterior
Situated in the front, a term commonly used to denote the incisor and canine teeth

Appliances
Any device used for orthodontics. These are used to move the teeth, change the position of the jaw, or hold the teeth in their finished positions after braces are removed. They may be attached to the teeth or removable.

Arch
Upper or lower jaw.

Archwire
The metal wire that is attached to the brackets and used to move the teeth to the desired position.

ASO
The Australian Society of Orthodontists (ASO) is the professional association for orthodontists in Australia. Only certified orthodontists may be members of the Australian Society of Orthodontists.  www.aso.org.au

Attrition 
Wear of the biting surfaces of the teeth.

Band
A circular strip of metal which is cemented to a tooth. The band is used for strength and anchorage.

Banding 
An appointment where braces or bands are bonded to the teeth using an orthodontic adhesive.

Bite 
The way the upper and lower teeth come into contact.

Bite Registration
An imprint of the way the teeth come into contact, usually made by biting into wax.

Bonding 
The process of attaching brackets to the teeth using an orthodontic adhesive.

Braces 
Orthodontic appliances used to move teeth and jaws. Usually comprised of brackets, bands and wires.

Bracket 
A metal or ceramic attachment bonded to a tooth to hold an arch wire

Bruxism
Grinding the teeth, usually during sleeping. Bruxism can cause abnormal tooth wear and may lead to pain in the jaw joints.

Cephalometric Radiographs
A radiograph of the side of the head showing the positioning of the teeth and jaws.

Chain
A stretchable plastic chain used to hold archwires into brackets. Used to help move the teeth.

Congenitally Missing Teeth
A genetic occurrence in which the expected number of permanent teeth do not develop.

Cross Bite 
A malocclusion where the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth

Crowding 
Insufficient space for the teeth

Debanding
Removal of braces.

Diagnostic or Treatment Records
Usually consisting of a medical history, written notes made by Dr Coveney, models of the teeth, photographs and xrays. These records are used to diagnose and plan a patients treatment.

Diastema
A space occurring between two adjacent teeth, usually at the front of the mouth.

Ectopic
Ectopic teeth are teeth which develop in the wrong position. In most cases, an ectopic tooth can be moved into the correct position with braces.

Elastics
Small elastics or rubber bands which use gently but continuous force to aid individual tooth movement or jaw alignment. These elastics are changed daily by the patient.

Fixed Appliances
An orthodontic appliance (usually braces) that are bonded or cemented to the teeth and cannot or should not be removed by the patient.

Fluoride 
A naturally occurring element which inhibits dental decay, often used as a mouthwash during orthodontic treatment

Frenectomy
The surgical removal, cutting or repositioning of the fraenum.

Fraenum
A fold of fleshy tissue which runs between the gums and the cheeks or the tongue

Functional Appliances
A removable appliance which holds the lower jaw in a forward position in order to correct the bite. Used to utilize the muscle action produced when speaking, eating and swallowing to produce force to move the teeth and align the jaws.

Impacted tooth
A tooth that does not erupt into the mouth or only erupts partially is considered impacted.

Impression 
A mould or casting of the teeth used to make a set of models of the teeth.

Malocclusion
The term used to describe teeth that do not fit together properly. It is a way of describing the position of the incisor teeth.
  • Class I malocclusion: A malocclusion where neither the upper nor lower teeth are prominent relative to the opposing teeth
  • Class II malocclusion: A malocclusion where the upper teeth are prominent relative to the lower teeth
  • Class III malocclusion: A malocclusion where the lower teeth are prominent relative to the upper teeth
Mandible
Lower jaw.

Maxilla
Upper jaw.

Mixed Dentition
The developmental stage in children (approximately ages 6 12) when they have a mix of deciduous (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth.

Modules
A small plastic piece, shaped like a donut, which is used to hold the archwires in the bracket.

Nightguard
A removable appliance worn at night to help minimize damage or wear to the teeth from clenching or grinding of the teeth during sleep.

Open Bite
A malocclusion in which teeth do not make contact with each other. With an anterior open bite, the front teeth do not touch when the back teeth are closed together. With a posterior open bite, the back teeth do not touch when the front teeth are closed together.

Orthodontics
The specialty area of dentistry concerned with the diagnosis, supervision, guidance and correction of malocclusions.

Orthodontist
A specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. In Australia an orthodontist must complete a Bachelor degree in Dentistry (a 5 year full time University course). Complete a Masters degree in Orthodontics (a 3 year full time University course) and be registered as a Specialist in Orthodontics.

Orthognathic Surgery
Corrective jaw surgery to treat and correct abnormalities of the facial bone structure, specifically the jaws and the teeth. Sometimes used in conjunction with orthodontic treatment.

Panoramic or OPG Radiograph
An x ray that shows all the teeth and both jaws on one film.

Plaque
Plaque is a sticky colourless film of bacteria that is constantly forming on your teeth. Plaque combines with sugars to form an acid that endangers teeth and gums. Plaque causes tooth decay and gum disease.

Quadhelix 
An appliance that is fixed to the molar teeth and has a zig zag wire across the palate. Used to correct a crossbite

Removable Appliance
An orthodontic appliance that can be removed by the patient. May be used to move teeth, align jaws or as a retenter.

Retainer
A fixed or removable appliance worn after the braces are removed to stabilise the teeth in their new position. Used to stop teeth moving.

Separators
A plastic elastic o-ring that is used to create space. Separators are usually placed between the teeth 3 - 4 days before a band is cemented to a tooth.

Supernumerary Teeth
A genetic occurrence in which there are more teeth than the usual number.

Tongue Thrust
When the tongue pushes against the teeth when swallowing. Forces generated by the tongue can move the teeth and bone and may lead to an anterior or posterior open bite.

Twin Block
A functional appliance made of an upper and lower plate which work together to bring the lower jaw forward and encourage lower jaw growth.

Wax
Wax can be used to prevent irritation to lips or cheeks.

Wires
Also known as archwires. The metal wire that is attached to the brackets and used to move the teeth to the desired position.
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