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Tom C. Sexton, Tallahassee FL Pediatric Dentist, Thomasville GA Orthodontist Pediatric Dentist
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  Braces, What does it all mean?
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  • Anything the orthodontist attaches to your teeth to move your teeth or to change the shape of your jaw.
  • Headgear - worn to move the upper molars back or hold the upper jaw back, slowing its growth, while the lower jaw is free to grow forward.
  • Herbst appliance - a fixed appliance that achieves treatment goals such as expansion, space opening or closure or close an open bite
  • Lower lingual arch - fits on the inside of the lower teeth, from molar to molar, as a space maintainer.

A removable thin metal wire that fits into the bracket slots to move your teeth.

A ring of metal with the bracket attached that is glued onto the back teeth.

A metal or ceramic part that is bonded (glued) onto a tooth and attaches to the arch wire.

Chain, Orthodontic Chain
A stretchable plastic chain used to hold archwires into brackets and to move teeth.

Elastics (Rubber bands) or Elastic Ligature
Little colored rings used to attach the archwire to the bracket. There are plenty of colors you get to choose from. Elastics provide special forces that cannot be achieved with archwires alone and require excellent patient cooperation.

Fixed appliance
Any orthodontic part that is cemented or bonded to teeth.

A device that is used to protect your mouth from injury when you are participating in sports. The use of a mouthguard is especially important for orthodontic patients to prevent injuries.

Palatal Expander
A device used to make your upper jaw wider.

A process which occurs every 4-10 weeks adjusting the wires in your braces in order to keep your treatment on schedule.

A device that the orthodontist gives to wear after the removal of braces. The retainer holds teeth in the correct position and should always be worn as directed by your orthodontist to keep that beautiful smile.

Rubber bands or Elastics
Used to provide special forces to your teeth. These forces cannot be achieved with archwires alone and require excellent patient cooperation.

A plastic or metal part used to create space between your teeth for bands for future braces or appliances.

A clear wax used to prevent your braces from irritating your lips when your braces are first put on, or at other times.


Orthodontic Procedures

Cementing (gluing) orthodontic bands to your teeth.

Attaching brackets to your teeth using a special safe adhesive.

Cephalometric X-Ray
An x-ray of the head that shows whether your teeth and jaws are aligned properly, and growing properly.

The Consultation
A meeting with your orthodontist where he discusses your treatment plan.

The removal of cemented orthodontic bands.

An exciting day when braces are removed and you can show your beautiful smile!

Extraoral photograph
Photos of the face and profile.

A soft dough-like material is placed in a small tray that fits over your teeth. In a matter of a few moments your teeth leave a print in this material.

Panoramic x-ray
An x-ray taken by a machine that rotates around your head to give the orthodontist a picture of your teeth, jaws and other important information.

Records appointment
The orthodontic assistant takes photographs, x-rays, and, when needed, impressions so that they can determine what treatment needs to be done.

Retie or Tightening of your braces
A process which occurs every 4-10 weeks adjusting the wires in your braces in order to keep your treatment on schedule.


Other Orthodontic Terms

Buccal - Buccally
Towards the cheek - on the cheek-side of the tooth.

Closed bite
A malocclusion where your upper teeth cover your lower teeth when you bite down. This is also called a "deep bite."

A malocclusion when you bite down and some of your upper teeth are inside of your lower teeth.

An orthodontic problem caused by having too many teeth in too small of a space.

Deep bite
Excessive overbite; closed bite.

Flared teeth
A term used to indicate the position of the teeth. The upper teeth are flared lingually (toward the tongue).

Full orthodontic treatment
Getting braces

Lingual - Lingually
Towards the tongue-on the tongue-side of the tooth.

Poor positioning of your teeth.

Class I Occlusion
An occlusion where your bite is OK (your top teeth line up with your bottom teeth) but your teeth are crooked, crowded or turned.

Class II Occlusion
An occlusion where your upper teeth stick out past your lower teeth. This is also called an "overbite" or "buck teeth"

Class III Occlusion
An occlusion where your lower teeth stick out past your upper teeth. This is also called an "underbite".

The alignment and spacing of your upper and lower teeth when you bite down.

Proper Occlusion
A beautiful smile where all of your teeth are straight and your top teeth line up with your bottom teeth.

Open bite
A malocclusion in which the teeth do not close or come together in the front of your mouth.

The treatment preformed to correct your bite and make your smile look wonderful.

A dentist who has been specially trained to do orthodontics.


Vertical overlapping of the upper teeth over the lower teeth.

Horizontal projection of upper teeth beyond the lower.


© Copyright 2003 - Dental WebSmith, Inc., Tom C. Sexton, DMD, PA (Florida), and Tom C. Sexton, DMD, PA (Georgia). All rights reserved. Disclaimer: The information provided within is intended to help you better understand dental conditions and procedures. It is not meant to serve as delivery of medical or dental care. If you have specific questions or concerns, contact your health care provider.