Orthodontic Terms and Definitions


Clear removable orthodontic appliances that are used for straightening teeth and fixing other bite problems.

Anterior Teeth

Front teeth.


Upper or lower jaw.


An orthodontic metal wire that is attached to braces. The tension in the archwire generates force for the movement and alignment of the teeth.


Small tooth colored or clear ridges or bumps that are placed on certain teeth during clear aligner treatment. These attachments provide a vantage point for the aligners to perform certain tooth movements.


Orthodontic bands are metal rings that surround the teeth and can be used to straighten teeth that are harder to move or speed up treatment. They also provide a solid base for headgear and other orthodontic connections.


The process of cementing orthodontic bands, brackets, or other appliances to the teeth.


Orthodontic brackets are small, metallic, or ceramic squares that are bonded to your teeth. The archwire, which moves the teeth, passes through a slot present on each bracket.


The surface of the teeth facing the cheeks.

Class I Malocclusion

Class I Malocclusion is the most common condition that prompts patients to get braces. It occurs when the arches are properly aligned, but the teeth may be misaligned or crowded

Class II Malocclusion

Class II Malocclusion is also known as an overbite. This condition is most frequently caused by an underdeveloped lower jaw along with protruding up teeth.

Class III Malocclusion

A Class III Malocclusion, also known as an underbite, is a condition where the lower teeth protrude excessively over the upper teeth.

Deep Bite Malocclusion

A deep bite malocclusion, also known as an overbite or closed bite, occurs when the upper front teeth excessively overlap the lower front teeth.


A crossbite usually indicates a misalignment of the arches, resulting in the upper and lower teeth crossing over each other because either the top or bottom is closer to the cheeks or tongue than the teeth on the corresponding arch.


Elastics are small rubber bands that attach to your braces and generate force to help move your teeth and jaw.

Functional Appliances

Functional appliances are orthodontic appliances that use force to move your jaw and muscles to re-direct their growth and achieve optimal tooth and jaw alignment.


The surface of the teeth towards the lips.


Ligatures are the elastics or tiny rubber bands that are used to hold the archwires in place.


The surface of the teeth facing the tongue.


A malocclusion is a misalignment of the teeth.

Open Bite

An open bite is a condition where the upper and lower teeth do not touch when your mouth is closed.


Overbite is a condition where the upper front teeth excessively overlap the bottom front teeth when the teeth are closed.


Overjet is a condition where the upper front teeth protrude and sit over the front teeth. Also known as “buck teeth.”


The surface of the teeth towards the palate.

Posterior Teeth

Back teeth.


A retainer is a removable or fixed appliance that is worn after the completion of orthodontic treatment and is used for preventing the teeth from moving back.

Space Maintainer

Space maintainers are appliances that are used for holding the space for the permanent teeth when primary teeth fall out prematurely.


An underbite is a condition where the lower front teeth or the jaw sits ahead of the upper counterpart.


A special form of orthodontic wax that is placed over the brackets and edges or archwires to prevent irritation.