Swords Orthodontics
17 Main St, Swords, Co Dublin, Ireland

The Orthodontic Dictionary

The Orthodontic Dictionary


"what's that" and "what does that mean" are words we hear alot of from patients and parents in the dental clinic. Here is a list of words we most frequently get asked about and their meaning.



Arch wires attach to the brackets and acts as tracks to guide the movement of the teeth.

Attachments are tooth-coloured ridges that stick to your teeth like braces brackets. These attachments click into the Invisalign aligners to help the teeth move more effectively.


Bite turbos are small platforms placed on the inside of the upper front teeth, to prevent full closure of the teeth. When upper and lower braces are placed at the same time, the top teeth bite down and contact the lower braces. These are placed when a person has a very deep bite where if bite turbos where not placed they would be able to bite the lower brackets off.

Bonding is defined as “The joining or attaching of two substances together by means of a chemical reaction or an adhesive” according to the Oxford Dentistry Dictionary. Bonding is when we attach the brackets to your teeth.


Bracket is defined as “An attachment on a fixed *orthodontic appliance. They are *bonded onto teeth with a *composite material.” These are the metal attachments that help move the teeth.



Calculus/tartar is a form of hardened dental plaque. This calculus build up cannot be removed by a tooth brush and can only be removed with ultrasonic tools and hand instrument by a dentist.

Class II correctors are metal push rod spring that are attached to the brace from the upper jaw to the lower jaw. These cannot be removed by the patient and put a constant gentle force on the teeth to help to move them into proper alignment during orthodontic treatment These help to correct the way a person bites by pulling the top teeth back and pushing the bottom teeth forward.


Debonding is defined as “The process by which orthodontic *brackets and associated *bonding resin are removed from the enamel surface of the teeth” This is where we remove the brackets from your teeth at the end of treatment.


Dental wax is a soft, harmless gum, lip and cheek protector for children and adults with braces that can be used in a pinch to cover brackets and sharp wire ends with a smooth surface.


Elastics bands are small stretchy loops of elastic that help move teeth into proper alignment during orthodontic treatment. The bands may stretch from upper jaw to lower jaw, or be connected to teeth in the same jaw. These are connected to the brackets with hooks.



Fixed retainer is a wire that is glued to the lingual (tongue side) of the teeth. These retainers are typically made of stainless steel. They hold the teeth in the position where we placed them during treatment. Teeth have a natural tendency to move after treatment, particularly in the direction of their original position. This is called a relapse. Retainers function is to keep a relapse.



Gingivitis is reversible inflammation of the gums which presents as red and swollen gums that bleed when touched or when brushing with a toothbrush. This is caused when there is a build up of plaque that has not been removed by tooth-brushing over a period of time.



Hooks are small metal rods that are attached to the bracket which allows elastics to be attached to them.



Impression/mould: An Imprinted mould of the teeth by placing a dental material into a tray and placing it on a person teeth. The material is at first soft and then sets to a hard material after a few seconds to a minute. A cast or a model of the teeth can then be made from this.

Incisor crossbite is when the upper front teeth (incisors) sit behind the lower front teeth.

Interdental brushes are small dental brush specially designed for cleaning between your teeth and the braces, where a regular toothbrush does not reach. Using an interdental brush every day, as well as tooth-brushing, is an easy and efficient method to keep your gums and teeth fresh and healthy.

Invisalign/Aligner are orthodontic devices that are a transparent, plastic form of dental braces used to adjust teeth and straighten teeth. They work in a series of trays that gradually shift your teeth into place. Each tray is manufactured so that the teeth are slightly straighter than the previous tray.



Lingual arch holds the permanent teeth at the back and front of the mouth in place so that the rest of the teeth have room to erupt between them. It is usually left in place until all the permanent teeth have erupted.



Molar bands/metal rings are rings that are fitted around your back teeth (molar teeth) when constructing a set of braes. They are used in orthodontics to provide a solid anchor to the archwire that runs along the span of the braces.

Molar crossbite is when the upper teeth or jaw are narrower than the bottom teeth and when they bite down the top teeth sit down inside the bottom back teeth. This is particularly a problem if it causes the lower jaw to shift sideways when the teeth close together.



Overbite occurs when the lower and upper jaws and/or teeth are not aligned, causing the upper front teeth to cover the lower front teeth. Most often an overbite is hereditary, but it can also be caused by the jaw not forming correctly.

Overjet is what happens when the top front teeth point outwards, or protrude, over the bottom teeth towards the lip. Protruded upper teeth are often due to having a lower jaw that’s underdeveloped in proportion to the upper jaw.


Palatal arch holds the main permanent teeth in place so that the rest of the teeth have room to grow. It is usually left in place until all the permanent teeth have erupted.

Panoramic x-ray  is a two-dimensional (2-D) dental x-ray that captures the entire mouth in a single image, including the teeth, upper and lower jaws, surrounding structures and tissues.

Periodontal probe “blunt gum pointer” Is a dental instrument that is usually long, thin, and blunted at the end. It is used to check the health of the gums and the surrounding pockets.

Plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth and contains millions of bacteria. The bacteria in plaque cause tooth decay and gum disease if they are not removed regularly through brushing and flossing.



Removable retainers are a clear plastic that hold the teeth in position where we placed the, during treatment. Teeth have a tendency to move after treatment usually back to the position they were in before treatment. This is called relapse. Retainers are used to prevent this.

RME (Rapid Maxilla Expander) is used in young and growing patients. The upper jaw is in two halves and where they meet is potential for growth that will make the jaw wider. A Rapid Maxillary Expander (RME) is specially designed to widen the upper jaw.



Separators/ blue elastics/spacers are a special rubber band that is used to break the contact points, which are the surface where the tooth touch each other. They are placed between the molars before the molar bands are placed.

Study models/Dental models/casts are replicas of a patient's teeth which are made by pouring dental plaster into impressions (imprints, or moulds) of the teeth, and allowing it to harden. Dental models are created whenever the dentist needs to study the size and relationship of the teeth, gums, dental arches and a patient's growth and development.


Twin Blocks are a popular way of reducing the projection of the front teeth in patients who are growing. Twin‐block is an effective appliance in accelerating mandibular (lower jaw) growth. It also helped dramatically in molar correction and overjet reduction. The use of these appliances is greatly dependent on the patient’s compliance and they simplify the fixed appliance phase.


Wisdom teeth are also known as the third molars. They are the last molar teeth to develop which usually grow at the very back of the upper and lower jaw bones, one at each back ‘corner’ of the mouth Most people don’t have enough room for them to erupt into the mouth so they usually get stuck or impacted. Sometimes they cause people trouble and they have to be removed. Usually people do not need these removed for orthodontic treatment.

White spots/decalcification is the accumulation of plaque (sticky, colourless film of bacteria), which is a continuous process. Wearing braces can increase decalcification due to improper brushing, especially under and around the brackets.



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As part of Phase One of the National Reopening, Swords Orthodontics is now resuming routine orthodontic treatment.
There will be a few differences in how we do this specifically to deal with coronavirus, but you'll still be getting great orthodontic treatment.
We'll be in touch to reorganise your appointments, please don't attend without an appointment.