Dental Jargon Explained – Orthodontics


Orthodontics is the art and science of repositioning teeth; guiding facial growth and development for aesthetics and function. As in all aspects of dentistry, it begins with an extensive diagnostic process which includes various x-rays, photographs and study models.

Treatment may not begin immediately after evaluation, but the most opportune time will be recommended from a developmental perspective. If this is the case, your child will be enrolled in a recall system to monitor growth annually.

It should be noted that orthodontics is not just for children, but adults as well. Treatment types fall into two broad categories – fixed and removable appliances. Treatment is divided into an active phase and a retention phase.

Removable appliances are worn for specified periods of time and can be removed from the mouth. Headgear and intraoral appliances fall into this category, as does Invisalign and the other similar systems. These treatment approaches require volitional involvement to work best.

Fixed or cemented appliances as the name suggests are attached to the teeth. These are the familiar braces –brackets, wires, and elastics. Most fixed appliances are for repositioning teeth, but some are used to break bad habits.

Retention appliances are used for a specified time after the active phase of treatment is completed to stabilize the teeth in their new positions. Some are removable and some are bonded to the insides of the upper and lower front teeth permanently.

For more information see the Ontario Association of Orthodontists web site: ttp://

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