Glossary

abfraction
The pathologic loss of hard tooth substance caused by biomechanical loading forces. Such loss is thought to be due to flexure and chemical fatigue degradation of enamel or dentin at a site distant from the site of actual loading.

ankylosed/ankylosis
Term used to describe teeth that have become fused to bone and cannot be moved orthodontically

ankyloglossia
The tissue attachment from floor of mouth to bottom side of tongue is shorter than normal, sometimes referred to as “tongue-tied.” The result is that the tongue has a restricted range of motion.

archwire
A wire engaged in orthodontic attachments, attached to the crowns of two or more teeth and capable of causing or guiding tooth movement.

band (orthodontic)
A thin metal ring, usually stainless steel, which serves to secure orthodontic attachments to a tooth. The band, with orthodontic attachments welded or soldered to it, is closely adapted to fit the contours of the tooth and then cemented into place.

banding
Term we use to describe the orthodontic appointment when appliances are initially placed.

bracket
An orthodontic attachment that is secured to a tooth (either by bonding or banding) for the purpose of engaging an arch wire. Brackets can be fabricated from metal, ceramic, or plastic.

buccal
Pertaining to the cheek, toward the cheek

ceramic brackets
Tooth-colored or clear synthetic brackets that are generally less noticeable than conventional metal attachments.

crowding
Dental misalignment caused by inadequate space for the teeth.

distal
Usually used to describe the surface of a tooth that is away from the front midline

deband
Term used to describe the removal of orthodontic appliances (bands and brackets).

diastema
A space between the center teeth in the upper or lower arch

elastics (rubber bands)
Used to move teeth in prescribed direction (commonly connected to molar band or bracket hooks), available in numerous colors. You will be asked to place new elastics every few hours since they weaken over time.

extraction
Term used to describe the removal of a tooth.

facial
Pertaining to the face, sometimes used to describe the cheek side or lip side, as in the facial surface of a tooth

fiber release/fiberotomy/fiberectomy/circumferential supracrestal fiberotomy/CSF
Synonymous terms used to describe a procedure usually done by a general dentist, periodontist (gum specialist) or oral surgeon in which the elastic fibers that attach a tooth to the surrounding gum tissue are released. Once teeth that were severely rotated at the start of orthodontic treatment are straightened, these elastic fibers have a tendency to pull the tooth back toward the original position. By having the fibers clipped, they recoil and heal to the tooth’s new position lessening the “memory” of the tooth and tendency to relapse, thus enhancing long-term stability of the orthodontic result.

frenectomy  Having a tissue attachment clipped and attached at a new position. Upper midline frenectomy is frequently done to reduce a thick upper lip attachment to front gums and minimizes the tendency for relapse of space between upper front teeth and/or the risk of gum tissue recession on front teeth. Lower frenectomy may be done to minimize the risk of gum tissue recession. Lower lingual frenectomy (under tongue) may be done to minimize the risk of gum tissue recession and/or increase the range of motion of the tongue.   In our office, we use a soft tissue laser for this procedure which results in minimal bleeding or discomfort.

gingiva
The tissue that surrounds the teeth, consisting of a fibrous tissue that is continuous with the periodontal ligament and mucosal covering, commonly referred to as “gums” or “gum tissue.”

gingiva, inadequate attached gingiva
Insufficient amount of firm gum tissue around a tooth

gingival graft
Transplantation of gum tissue from one site to another, generally done to increase firm gum tissue around a tooth in order to prevent further gum tissue recession

gingival recession
Change in the gingival margin, gum tissue recession exposing part of the root of the tooth.

gummy smile
A term commonly used to describe an excessive exposure of maxillary gingival tissue during a full smile.

headgear
Generic term for extraoral traction used for growth modification, tooth movement, and anchorage. The means by which the headgear is attached to the head is dependent on the direction of movement/growth desired.

Herbst appliance
Fixed appliance designed for correction of bite problems when the lower jaw/teeth are too far back relative to the upper jaw/teeth

holding arch
Generic term for a fixed appliance used to hold space for unerupted teeth

impacted/impaction
Term used to describe a tooth that is unable to erupt on its own, sometimes because of insufficient space for eruption, ankylosis or because it is caught behind or under another tooth

imaging
The process of acquiring representations of structures in either two or three dimensions.

Interproximal reduction   Removal of a small amount of enamel from the sides of a tooth, used to gain space to relieve crowding or to compensate for a tooth size/arch size discrepancy. Reproximation and interproximal enamelplasty are synonymous terms that refer to the same procedure as reproximation.

 impression
An impression in orthodontics is produced by placing an elastic compound (alginate) in a preformed tray, and then placing the tray over the teeth for 30-40 seconds until the alginate material stiffens. The impression is removed from the mouth and then filled with stone plaster to produce and exact reproduction of the teeth.

LASER
Abbreviation for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A device that concentrates light into an intense, narrow beam used to cut or remove tissue.

lingual
Of or pertaining to the tongue, a term used to describe surfaces and directions toward the tongue.

lip bumper
Lower fixed or removable appliance used to help gain space for unerupted lower teeth, pushes lower molars back and allows front teeth and side teeth to erupt/align in a wider arc

Lower Lingual Holding Arch
Fixed appliance used on the lower teeth, generally to hold space for unerupted teeth

mandibular
Of or pertaining to the lower jaw. Term may be used to describe teeth, dental restorations, orthodontic appliances or facial structures.

maxillary
Of or pertaining to the upper jaw. Term may be used to describe teeth, dental restorations, orthodontic appliances or facial structures.

mesial
Usually used to describe the surface of a tooth that is toward the front midline

Nance appliance
Fixed appliance used on the upper teeth to hold the upper molars back and/or hold space for unerupted teeth

orthodontic records
Diagnostic material used in diagnosis and treatment planning, usually consisting of radiographs (x-rays,) photos and plaster models of the teeth

orthodontist
A dental specialist who has completed an advanced post-doctoral two or three year curriculum, after receiving a DDS or DMD dental degree. Only after completion of at least two academic years in the special area of orthodontics is a dentist accredited by the American Dental Association as a specialist in orthodontics and is permitted by law to use the title of orthodontist.  A general dentist can do orthodontics such as braces or Invisalign, but they do not have the training nor can they call themselves an orthodontist.

orthognathic surgery
Surgery to alter relationships of teeth and/or supporting bones, nearly always accomplished in conjunction with orthodontic therapy.

overbite
Vertical overlapping of upper teeth over lower teeth, measures how much of the lower teeth are visible when the upper and lower teeth are together.

overjet
Used to measure the horizontal projection/protrusion of the upper front teeth beyond the lower front teeth palatal expander Fixed appliance used on the upper teeth to make the upper arch or group of teeth wider. Often used for correction of crossbites or to help gain space to relieve crowding

radiograph
A permanent image, which may be on film or digitized, produced by ionizing radiation. Sometimes called an X-ray after the most common source of image-producing radiation.

reproximation
Removal of a small amount of enamel from the sides of a tooth, used to gain space to relieve crowding or to compensate for a tooth size/arch size discrepancy.  Interproximal reduction and interproximal enamelplasty are synonymous terms that refer to the same procedure as reproximation.

resorption/root resorption
Term used to describe dissolution/dissolving of the root of a tooth. Resorption occurs naturally when permanent teeth erupt and dissolve the roots of baby teeth, causing the baby tooth to fall out. Resorption can also happen spontaneously during orthodontic treatment or as the result of one permanent tooth erupting across another, damaging the root.

retainer
Any orthodontic appliance, fixed or removable, used to maintain the position of the teeth following corrective treatment.

retention
The passive treatment period following active orthodontic correction during which retaining appliances are used.

RPE/RME
Other terms for palatal expander

surgical exposure
Term used to describe a surgical procedure, generally done in an oral surgeon’s office to uncover an unerupted tooth to aid its eruption. In most cases the oral surgeon also bonds an attachment to the tooth to allow elastic thread to be attached and used to apply a slow gentle force to facilitate/guide the eruption of the tooth.