Common Terms Heard in an Orthodontia Office?

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Going to your orthodontia appointment for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. There are many words used to describe phases, techniques, and tools used in the orthodontia process. Here are a few terms to know before you go:

1. Pallate expander: this is a cemented in appliance that will help widen the upper jaws so that teeth can fit properly. A palate expander is sometimes used to help reduce crowding. Over time, patients (or their parents) have to turn a screw so that the jaw is widened. This is a little painful, but pain medicine usually help. Palate expanders, if used, are done before braces begin.

2. Braces: also known as dental braces, they are used to help straighten and align teeth. They are used to correct underbites, overbites, open bites, cross bites, crooked teeth, and other imperfections in the alignment of your teeth. The rubber bands place force in targeted area to move the teeth slowly and gently toward their desired goal.

3. Retainer: this is a custom fitted piece of plastic for your upper and lower teeth typically used during and after orthodontic treatment. It helps to keep the shifting that naturally occurs in your teeth from impacting your completed dental work. Retainers should be removed when eating. This may cause retainers to be tossed out accidentally. Be sure your child forms the habit of placing their retainer in their retainer box at home, this will help them to remember to do it at school. The replacement cost of a retainer is generally $100 to $200.

4. Spacers: are used to put spaces in between teeth before braces or palate expanders are introduced. They create a gap in your teeth so the applicance can be installed. They are made of rubber or metal.

5. Adjustments: includes tightening or loosening of your braces to get the desired look.

6. Power Chain: a strong rubber band that runs across your braces horizontally. It is used to close gaps between teeth and keep your teeth from moving apart.

7. Rubber bands: also called elastic ligatures, are used to keep the arch wire held into the slot on the bracket.

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Learn more about braces & orthodontists:

What is an orthodontist?
Tips for brace wearers
Tips for an orthodontic retainer