Dictionary for Patients

Key terms that your Orthodontist will use.

Dictionary for Patients

Appliance: Orthodontic appliances can be either fixed to your teeth or removable, and are used to push, hold, or pull your teeth and/or jaw bones in a certain direction with a specific amount of force in order to achieve a desirable outcome.

Archwire: Archwires are metal wires that are used to help guide the movement of your teeth in a specific way. As the treatment progresses and your teeth are guided into their new locations, the archwire may periodically need to be changed.

Band: The band refers to a metal ring that is cemented to your tooth where it completely encircles the tooth. The bands are used to help attach brackets to your teeth.

Banding: The process of fitting and cementing orthodontic bands around your teeth, usually just the back molars in certain cases. These bands are easily removed at the end of your treatment.

Bonding: The process of attaching the brackets to your teeth. The teeth are first prepared with an etchant and primer, then the bracket is placed with adhesive and hardened with an intense light (cured).

Brackets: Brackets are bonded directly to your teeth and are used to hold the archwire in place. They can be either ceramic (clear) or metal.

Cephalometric Radiograph: Sometimes referred to as a “ceph”, this type of radiograph is normally taken as part of your diagnostic records and provides the doctor with valuable information on the size and position of the upper and lower jaws, as well as the angulation of the teeth. Growth can also be predicted from this radiograph.

Coil Spring: These springs are placed in between your brackets and over top of your on the archwire and act to create space for crowded out teeth.

Debanding or Debonding: The process of removing orthodontic bands and brackets from your teeth.

Elastic Bands: Elastics are used during orthodontic treatment for a variety of purposes, but most commonly to improve the fit of your upper and lower teeth and help close spaces. If you require elastics, the doctor and assistant will explain exactly when and how to use them. Normally, elastics are worn all the time, except when eating and brushing.

Elastic Ties: Elastic ties are small rubber bands that are used to hold the archwire onto the brackets. These ties are changed at each visit and come in a variety of colours.

Headgear: Headgear is a removable appliance used to modify facial growth and correct discrepancies between upper and lower jaw size. The most common headgear appliance has an inner bow that attaches to the upper molars and an outer bow that connects to a neck strap. This appliance is used when the upper jaw is positioned forward of the lower jaw. There is also a headgear appliance that corrects the opposite situation where the lower jaw is outgrowing the upper jaw, creating an underbite. A fixed upper expander appliance always accompanies this “reverse headgear”. Headgear is typically worn at night only (10-12 hours per day) for approximately 9-12 months, depending on the severity of the orthodontic problem.

Dental Impressions: Sometimes referred to as “molds”, impressions are replications of your teeth created by having you bite into a soft material that hardens quickly. These impressions are then used to create models of your teeth in which the doctor uses to plan your treatment and make appliances from.

Invisalign: Sometimes referred to as clear or invisible braces, Invisalign is an amazing product that uses a series of clear, removable, custom-molded trays or “aligners” to straighten your teeth rather than traditional fixed braces. However, not all patients are ideal candidates for this type of orthodontic treatment and the doctor will discuss whether this is a good option for you.

Ligation: Refers to the process of attaching the archwire to the brackets on your teeth.

Ligature: Refers to the actual material that is used to hold the archwire onto your bracket. Ligatures can be either elastic or metal.

Lower Holding Arch: Is a very common appliance consisting of bands placed on both lower first molars connected by a heavy wire that rests comfortably behind the lower front teeth. It acts to hold arch space during the mixed dentition and prevent further crowding.

Lip Bumper: Is an appliance consisting of a thick wire with overlying plastic that fits into bands on the lower first molars and prevents the lower lip from “trapping” under the gap between the upper and lower front teeth.

Mouthguard: When you participate in rigorous activities or sports, a mouth guard may be advisable in order to protect your teeth and mouth from injury. These can be custom molded to your teeth, which can better help keep them safe if you get hit in the face.

Palatal Expander: Is an appliance that expands the upper arch in a controlled manner in order to correct a crossbite, eliminate a shift of the lower jaw when biting, or generate arch space. It works by placing gentle pressure on your upper teeth and palatal bone every time an adjustment or turn of the screw is made. Typically these appliances are in the mouth for 6-8 months to stabilize the correction and may then be replaced with an interim retainer if required.

Panoramic Radiograph: Sometimes referred to as a “pan”, this type of radiograph is a form of tomography, which means images of multiple planes are taken to make up the composite panoramic image. One is normally required as part of your diagnostic records which provides the doctor with valuable diagnostic information used to develop your treatment plan.

Retainers: These appliances are delivered after the active phase of your orthodontic treatment and help to hold and stabilize your teeth in their new positions. They can be removable or fixed depending on your particular orthodontic situation. It is vital to wear your retainers as directed in order to prevent any relapse of your treatment.

Spacers or Separators: Are tiny rubber bands placed between molar teeth in order to create a small amount of space. This space is then used to carefully fit bands around the teeth that can then be used for archwires and/or appliances. Separators are usually only in place for 7-10 days.

Trans-Palatal Arch: Is the upper arch equivalent of the lower holding arch. It consists of bands around the upper first molars connected by a heavy wire and acts to hold space for the erupting permanent/adult teeth or prevent relapse following upper arch expansion.


West Kelowna Orthodontics

Contact Information

215-3011 Louie Drive
West Kelowna , British Columbia
V4T 3E3

Phone: 250-768-8663

Email Us

Hours of Operation

Monday: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM

Wednesday: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM

Thursday: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM

Friday: Closed


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