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Orthodontic jargon-buster

  • Angles Classification – Edward Angle was an American dentist who helped standardize orthodontic treatment. He introduced classifications in the early twentieth century to define different problems with the bite. He also coined the word malocclusion, to mean a poorly aligned bite
  • Anterior – usually refers to the incisor and canine teeth
  • Apex – the tip or bottom end of the tooth’s root
  • Appliance – another word for a brace, it can be fixed or removable
  • Arch – we all have two dental arches, upper and lower
  • Arch form – the shape of the dental arch
  • Arch wire – the wire attached to the brackets to move teeth to a new position
  • Articulator – used by the orthodontist to hold models of teeth for studying occlusion
  • Attrition – wearing away of the surfaces and edges of teeth
  • Band – a metal ring place on back teeth to help attach brackets
  • Bite plane – an appliance used to help separate the teeth
  • Bond-up – an important appointment at the start of treatment when brackets are glued to teeth
  • Bracket – this can be of gold, metal or ceramic and holds the arch wire which is connected to all the brackets in the arch
  • Bruxism – the grinding of teeth
  • Calculus – also known as tartar, a hard layer which builds up on your teeth if you fail to brush and floss adequately. Turns to plaque
  • Cast – a model of the patient’s teeth and dental arch for the orthodontist to study
  • Cephalometric – an X-ray which shows the profile of your face and is then traced to measure changes during treatment
  • Cementum – the layer of hard tissue covering the root of the tooth
  • Crossbite – where some of your upper teeth are inside your lower teeth when you bite
  • Decalcification – the loss of calcium in your teeth, causing marks to appear on the enamel. Can occur during orthodontic treatment if you do not brush your teeth properly
  • Deep bite – an excessive overbite, when the upper teeth vertically overlap the lower teeth
  • Diastema – a space between two teeth
  • Gingivae – another name for your gums
  • Interproximal stripping – part of the fine-tuning of the smile when the teeth are minimally reduced in width
  • Labial appliances – braces placed on the front of the teeth
  • Lingual appliances – braces placed invisibly behind the teeth
  • Malocclusion – poor positioning of your teeth
  • Occlusion – the bite or normal meeting of teeth
  • Orthognathic Surgery – an operation which breaks the jaw to improve the bite, usually carried out by a surgeon in hospital in association with orthodontics
  • Open bite – when the upper arch and the lower arch do not meet at the front
  • Overbite – when the upper teeth vertically overlap the lower
  • Overjet – horizontal projection of upper front teeth
  • Palatal arch – a wire attached to bands fitted across the palate or roof of the mouth
  • Panoramic X-ray – shows all the teeth on one X-ray
  • Periodontics – the dental specialty concerned with gums
  • Plaque – A destructive layer on your teeth, caused by the action of bacteria on food. If you have plaque on your teeth, you will need a hygiene appointment before orthodontics can begin
  • Posterior – at the back of the mouth, usually premolar and molar teeth
  • Quadhelix – often used to correct a crossbite, this appliance is worn on the roof of the mouth, attached to molar teeth and expands the palate
  • Radiograph – another name for an X-ray
  • Relapse – the teeth which have been moved return to their original position
  • Retainer – worn after treatment to hold the teeth in position, can be fixed or removable
  • Retruded – when your front teeth tilt inwards, towards the back of the mouth
  • Separator – usually used to separate teeth at the back so that bands can be fitted onto teeth
  • Sleep Apnoea – a condition where breathing is disturbed during sleep and can be cured by orthodontic treatment
  • Space maintainer – used to hold open the gap left by the loss of a tooth
  • Sterilisation – an essential aspect of all dental and specialist practices, sterilization procedures involve cleaning instruments to prevent cross-contamination
  • Stop – an attachment placed in a bracket to stop the wire moving
  • Study models – Plaster casts of the teeth which allow the orthodontist to study the patient’s malocclusion
  • Supernumerary – an extra tooth
  • Temporomandibular Joint – the joint connecting your lower jaw to your skull, known as TMJ. If you have a problem or dysfunction, the condition is TMD
  • Tipping – altering the angle of a tooth as part of orthodontic treatment
  • Torque – altering the position of a tooth as part of orthodontic treatment
  • Tracing – the cephalometric tracing identifies the structures and landmarks used for orthodontic treatment
  • Traction – applying force to teeth to help them move
  • Traumatic occlusion – an abnormal bite causing damage to the teeth within it or to the mucosa
  • Typodont – a plastic model of a typical mouth used for teaching or education
  • Wax – prevents braces from rubbing the inside of the mouth

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