Frigo Orthodontic Orthodontic Terms

Orthodontic Terms

While many people have a basic understanding of standard orthodontic terms like braces or Invisalign, numerous specific terms related to various orthodontic treatments may need to be more familiar to patients.

At Frigo Orthodontics, we believe in educating our patients about the different devices we may use during orthodontic treatment. To facilitate this, we have compiled a comprehensive glossary of orthodontic terms. Since each patient’s treatment may differ, we have organized the list into general categories to make it easily accessible and tailored to individual needs. Whether you’re curious about braces, Invisalign, or other orthodontic appliances, this glossary will empower you to understand your treatment journey better.

Click on the teeth at the right to view the orthodontic term definition.


An orthodontic adjustment is a routine visit to the orthodontist during braces or aligner treatment. The orthodontist makes specific appliance changes, such as tightening wires or replacing elastic bands, to guide the teeth toward their desired positions. These regular follow-up visits are essential for monitoring progress, making necessary modifications, and ensuring effective treatment results, typically scheduled at regular intervals around once a month.

AdvanSync appliance:

The AdvanSync appliance is a relatively newer orthodontic device. It incorporates sophisticated technology, including nickel-titanium wires, to correct certain malocclusions or misaligned bites, provide precise tooth movements and shorten treatment time.


An orthodontic appliance is a specialized device that can be removable or fixed to the teeth. Its primary purpose is to facilitate tooth movement, reposition the jaw, or maintain the teeth in their final positions after orthodontic treatment. These appliances encompass a variety of options, such as braces, retainers, and mouthguards.


Archwire: The archwire is vital to traditional metal braces and the Damon System. It is a thin, flexible wire that runs through the brackets attached to the teeth. The orthodontist adjusts and changes the archwire periodically to apply the necessary pressure to guide the teeth into their optimal positions.


Also known as ligatures or elastic ties, these tiny rubber bands affix the archwire to traditional brackets.

Bonded retainer:

Consisting of a wire permanently affixed to the inside surface of the teeth, a bonded retainer maintains teeth in their desired position. 


Bonding is affixing brackets or other appliances to teeth using specialized dental glue. This adhesive is always non-toxic.


Braces come in various types, including clear, ceramic, lingual, self-ligating, and traditional metal braces. We place brackets on each tooth, with an archwire running through the brackets– usually affixed with tiny rubber bands. At Frigo Orthodontics, we recommend the Damon System for its precision and efficiency. All these treatments help align the teeth and fix any bite issues, overcrowding, or gaps you may be experiencing. After braces, the look and feel of your smile will drastically improve.


An orthodontic bracket is a small, square-shaped device typically made of metal or transparent ceramic bonded directly to the teeth using specialized non-toxic glue. The bracket acts as a handle, holding the archwire in place and guiding the movement of the teeth during orthodontic treatment, such as braces.

Clear aligners:

Clear aligners, such as the brand Invisalign, are an alternative to traditional braces but are only suitable in certain, very mild misalignment cases. It involves wearing clear, custom-made aligners that fit snugly over the teeth. Gradually, they shift teeth into proper alignment. Clear aligners are removable and nearly invisible, making them a suitable choice for disciplined patients who can manage the responsibility of consistent use. 


A crossbite is a form of malocclusion, or dental misalignment, where the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth. Also known as an underbite, this can impact a single tooth or several teeth.

Damon braces:

The Damon Ultima System is a particular brand of advanced dental braces system that straightens misaligned or crooked teeth. It consists of brackets, which we bond to the teeth, and archwires connecting the brackets. The wires apply gentle and continuous pressure to move the teeth to optimal positions. Damon braces are known for their self-ligating technology, which allows for more comfortable, efficient tooth movement while reducing friction.


Decalcification happens when bacteria sit on the tooth too long and begin to dissolve your enamel. The result is abnormal white spots on your teeth.


A diastema is a gap between two teeth.


Also known as rubber bands, tiny elastics are used alongside traditional metal braces to correct bite issues and jaw alignment. They connect specific points on the upper and lower brackets, applying additional force to encourage specific tooth and jaw movements. Please note that elastics are not used or needed with the Damon System.


Headgear is an external appliance worn outside the mouth, providing traction for tooth movement and growth modification. The headgear attaches to the head using a strap to the chin or neck. At Frigo Orthodontics, we will never ask you to wear headgear.

Herbst appliance:

The Herbst appliance is a fixed orthodontic device that corrects overbites and underbites. It consists of tubes and metal rods that connect the upper and lower jaws, promoting forward growth of the lower jaw while restricting the backward movement of the upper jaw.

Impacted tooth:

An impacted tooth does not fully emerge from the gum into its normal position in the dental arch. There are various causes of impacted teeth, such as lack of space in the jaw or obstruction by other teeth.


Invisalign® is a brand of clear aligners.

Lingual arch:

A lingual arch is a metal bar or wire attached to the molars’ inner surfaces. It helps maintain space and prevent the teeth from shifting, which is particularly useful in cases where premature tooth loss has occurred. Orthodontists may use the lingual arch on the lower or upper jaw.


A “bad bite”; teeth that do not fit together correctly.


The lower jaw is also called a mandible.

MARA appliance:

The MARA appliance, or Mandibular Anterior Repositioning Appliance, is another device used to correct overbites. It positions the lower jaw forward, helping to properly align the upper and lower jaws while correcting the patient’s bite.


The maxilla is the upper jawbone of the skull. It is a vital component of the facial skeleton, crucial in supporting the upper teeth. The maxilla also contributes to the overall appearance of the face.

Mixed dentition:

Mixed dentition refers to a specific stage in dental development when a child has both primary (baby) teeth and permanent teeth in their mouth. It is a critical period for monitoring dental growth and early orthodontic intervention. 


A mouthguard is a device used to protect the gums and teeth during contact sports or other physical activities that could cause dental injury. People who grind their teeth while sleeping can also wear mouthguards. We often recommend that our patients, especially those with braces, use a mouthguard. Our in-house, custom-fit mouthguards help prevent appliance damage and reduce the likelihood of oral injuries.

Mouth sores:

Irritating brackets, wires, or other appliances can cause sores inside the mouth. Mouth sores may occur when patients get their braces. Still, we will do our utmost to ensure a comfortable orthodontic journey. 


Also known as a bite, an occlusion is how the upper and lower teeth meet each other.

Open bite:

An open bite is a type of malocclusion (bad bite) where there is a space between the upper and lower front teeth when the jaws are closed. This condition prevents the upper and lower teeth from making proper contact, leading to difficulties in chewing and speaking, and likely requires orthodontic intervention.


Otherwise known as a deep bite, an overbite occurs when the top front teeth excessively overlap or cover the bottom front teeth. 

Overjet bite:

Also known as a jet bite, an overjet bite is a condition where the upper teeth extend outward and overlap the bottom teeth. This issue impacts your appearance and can cause jaw pain and lead to difficulties with chewing, drinking, and biting.


Orthodontics is a specialized form of dentistry. This practice diagnoses, prevents, and treats dental and facial abnormalities. Most commonly, orthodontics is known for straightening teeth. 


An orthodontist is a dental expert with advanced training in orthodontics. They have completed at least two additional years of graduate training in an accredited program after dental school. With their expertise in designing, applying, and controlling corrective appliances, orthodontists ensure optimal facial balance by aligning teeth and jaws.

Orthodontic wax:

Orthodontic wax may be placed over brackets or wires to relieve irritation. Please let us know if you are experiencing any pain due to your braces.


The palate is the roof of the mouth.

Palatal expander:

A palatal expander is attached to the molars on either side of the top arch to widen the upper jaw. The expander is adjusted periodically to apply gentle pressure on the palate, creating additional space to correct crowding or crossbite issues. In general, palatal expanders are used in conjunction with braces.

Phase I:

Otherwise known as early orthodontic treatment, Phase I addresses specific orthodontic issues like alignment and growth, which are easier to correct at a young age. This treatment is typically performed between the ages of seven and 10 when a child has a mix of baby and permanent teeth. 

Phase II:

Phase II orthodontic treatment starts once all of the patient’s permanent teeth have erupted. It is usually during this stage that patients get braces. 


Posterior refers to teeth located toward the back of the mouth, including molars and premolars.

Power chain:

Also known as a chain, a power chain is an elastic chain used with braces. It helps to close gaps between teeth or to align crowded teeth effectively. We apply the power chain to the brackets, linking them together and creating continuous pressure for specific tooth movements.

Quad helix:

The quad helix is an orthodontic appliance utilizing looped wire to expand the upper jaw, correcting underbites.


Made of high-grade plastic, a removable retainer is worn to stabilize teeth after orthodontic treatment. Retainers can also be permanent and consist of wires bonded on the inner surface of the teeth.

Self-ligating brackets:

Smaller than traditional brackets, these brackets do not require elastics to hold the archwire in place. They use a metal clip that opens and closes, resulting in reduced friction and may lead to faster, more efficient treatment.

Space maintainer:

Also known as spacers, space maintainers are small metal bands that wrap around a tooth. They’re used to create space between teeth.


Springs are metal components strategically placed on the archwire between brackets to create forces that push, pull, or open and close spaces between teeth during orthodontic treatment.


In orthodontics, a splint stabilizes the jaw position or protects the teeth from grinding during sleep (bruxism). A splint may be either removable or fixed.

At Frigo Orthodontics, we ensure patients enjoy a comfortable and efficient orthodontic journey. By understanding the significance of the above terms, our patients can actively participate in their treatment.

We value our patients and are committed to being a reliable source of knowledge for your orthodontic needs. Please let us know if you have any questions about these orthodontic terms and if we can further guide you. We look forward to providing a life-changing experience as we help you achieve a beautiful, natural smile.

Schedule your consultation today, and let us help you achieve your best natural smile!