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Orthodontic References

Orthodontic Glossary


The tweaking of oral appliances. This may include wires, spacers, bands, or any number of other procedures.


Anything the orthodontist attaches to your teeth to aid in the process of straightening or correcting.


This wire is attached to your teeth and is designed to move your teeth or change the shape of your jaw.


Small metal bands placed on the back molars that anchor a variety of orthodontic appliances to your teeth.


How your top and bottom teeth come together.


A small appliance bonded to the tooth with adhesive. Orthodontic wire fits into a bracket.

Ceramic Brackets

Tooth-colored brackets are made of ceramic material and serve the same purpose as traditional metal brackets without the appearance of metal. Some patients prefer this aesthetically attractive option.

Coil Spring

This is a small metal spiral spring that fits onto the archwire and placed between brackets when necessary.


The removal of all appliances, brackets, bands, or any other cemented or bonded material used for treatment. 

Early Treatment

Early treatment is a form of limited orthodontic treatment usually performed between ages 6-10. This phase allows for growth correction of skeletal problems (narrow arches and improper jaw growth), improvement in speech and airway issues, and improves the chance for less invasive orthodontic treatment (non-extraction) later in the future.


Small rubber bands hooked to key points on orthodontic appliances like braces to help the wearer adjust an over or underbite.


The removal of a tooth. This procedure may be necessary if a tooth has significantly decayed, or if a tooth must be removed to make room for other teeth (as in the removal of wisdom teeth).

Fixed Retainer

A fixed retainer is also called a bonded or a permanent retainer. This type of retainer is fixed to the back of the teeth with orthodontic adhesive. As is such, it's hidden from view. A fixed retainer can remain in place indefinitely.


Forsus or forsus springs are an orthodontic appliance designed to correct an overbite.  Consisting of a small telescopic rod and tightly coiled springs, this device applies gentle pressure on the lower jaw, slowly aligning the patient’s bite.

Habit Appliance

An array of dental appliances affixed to either the upper or lower teeth.  It is designed to help children break dental-damaging habits like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting.

habit appliance

Hawley Retainer

The most common type of retainer. A Hawley retainer is made of wire and hard plastic or acrylic and is removable. These are typically used after braces are removed to keep teeth from shifting back into poor positions.

Head Gear

There are three different types of headgear (HG) that orthodontists often employ to correct skeletal discrepancies:  Cervical Pull, High Pull, and Reverse Pull.

A cervical pull HG assists in correcting overbite malocclusions. It consist of a soft/padded strap that wraps around the back of neck and connects to a facebow which attaches to the upper braces.  It is worn at night when a young patient is experiencing the majority of growth.  It allows maximum lower jaw growth to correct the overbite.

neckpad dolpin

A high pull HG is similar to cervical pull HG.  It has a padded strap that is place on the top of the head and attaches to a facebow which attaches to the upper braces. It is worn at night and controls vertical jaw growth to correct anterior open bite problems.


A reverse pull HG is used to treat skeletal underbite malocclusions.  It has a facemask-style appliance that is worn on the front of the face and attaches, with rubber bands, to the upper braces.  It applies a forward orthopedic forces to encourage more growth of the upper jaw to correct skeletal underbite malocclusions.


Herbst Appliance

A fixed orthodontic appliance designed to help a patient’s bite fit together properly.  Affixed to the top and lower jaw, This device both pulls and pushes the top and bottom of your jaw into alignment with gentle pressure utilizing rods and springs.  It is used to correct skeletal overbite malocclusions due to deficient lower jaws.

Imprelon Retainer

A clear, wire-free retainer that fits over the entire dentition.  This appliance prevents teeth from shifting back into improper positions.



A tooth that doesn't come through the gums. It can be partial or complete.  Impacted wisdom teeth are referred to oral surgeons for removal.  Other impacted teeth require an uncovering procedure and placement of an attachment so they can be guided into the dental arch.


An impression is a mold of your teeth. Your orthodontist will have you bite down into soft rubber-like material to create the impression.


One of several brands of clear-aligner treatments. Some patients choose to use these appliances instead of braces. They're made of transparent plastic and are removable.  Small clear attachments are often placed on some of the teeth to improve the efficiency of tooth movement.  Rubber bands can be used to improve correction of the bite.  Full-time wear is required, except for eating and brushing of teeth.


A small metal wire that is twisted around the bracket and main archwire.

Lingual Holding Arch

A space maintance appliance that consists of two metal bands cemented on the 2 lower first molars with an attached wire that runs along the tongue side of the lower teeth.  It prevents the lower molars from moving forward and maintains space for future erupting permanent teeth.


Lip Bumper

A removable oral appliance that relies on the pressure of your lower lip to move the lower molars back, and the lower front teeth forward. It allows maximum development of the lower arch and creates room for crowded front teeth.

lip bumper

MARA Appliance

MARA stands for Mandibular Anterior Repositioning Appliance.  This device is a fixed orthodontic device that works to move a patient’s lower jaw forward with the intent of correcting a skeletal overbite.


A removable rubber-like device worn on the upper teeth to protect the dentition during sports or other activities.

mouth guard


A removable acrylic appliance worn on the upper teeth to de-program the jaw muscles and lessens the effects of teeth grinding during sleep.


A tiny rubber band, available in a variety of colors, that holds the archwire to the bracket. O-rings are changed during each adjustment appointment.


When the upper front teeth greatly overlap the bottom teeth.

Palatal Expander (RPE)

An appliance that consists of bands on the upper molars connected to a turning mechanism located in the palate. This appliance allows for slow expansion of a narrow upper arch and is often utilized during early treatment.

palate expanders


A stretchable plastic chain that secures archwires into brackets and moves move teeth closer together closing spaces.


A procedure utilizing a small handheld camera that scans the teeth, palate, and bite of a patient to create a digital 3D image of the mouth. This information is used by the orthodontist to study the teeth, create an orthodontic treatment plan or track treatment progress. Scans can be 3D printed to create models for fabrication of appliances and retainers. Scans are used in place of traditional impressions.


Small elastic rings or wires clips placed between select teeth to create spacing for placement of metal bands for braces or orthodontic appliances. Separators may cause a tight or sore sensation that subsides over a few days.



Small elastic rings or wires clips placed between select teeth to create spacing for placement of metal bands for braces or orthodontic appliances. Separators may cause a tight or sore sensation that subsides over a few days.

Transpalatal Arch (TPA)

An orthodontic appliance that consists of metal bands on the upper first molars with a connecting wire that transverses close to the palate across the roof of the mouth. A TPA can used to maintain space for future erupting teeth or move molars.



When the bottom jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw.

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