Braces & Invisalign in Kansas City, MO

Young blonde girl smiling with braces.At Kavanaugh Orthodontics, our mission is to help each and every patient achieve a gorgeous smile through comprehensive orthodontic treatment. Our practice proudly treats patients of all ages throughout Sedalia and the greater Kansas City, MO area, and we strive to personalize care to suit the unique lifestyles of our patients. In addition to providing a wide range of orthodontic treatments, we strive to help educate our patients on orthodontic and dental health – so we've compiled this glossary of common terms you might hear in the office or read on our website.

Orthodontics Glossary

  • Archwire: The thin, springy metal wire that runs through the brackets of braces. The archwire applies force to the teeth through the brackets, making it responsible for aligning the teeth.
  • Band: A thin, tooth-colored metal ring that's wrapped around the rear molars and fixed with dental cement. Bands act as "anchors" for braces, giving the archwire a firm base to push off of and exert force to move the teeth.
  • Bracket: The metal studs attached to the front of teeth in braces. Brackets can be made from stainless steel, ceramic composite, or plastic, and they hold the archwires in place.
  • Ceramic Brackets: These are essentially the same as metal brackets, but made from a composite material that matches the color of teeth, making them less noticeable.
  • Crowding: An orthodontic condition where there isn't enough space in the smile to accommodate all the teeth, causing them to grow in crooked.
  • Debanding: Similar to what it sounds like, this is the process of removing orthodontic bands.
  • Elastics: Usually connected to hooks on the edges of brackets, elastics are used in combination with braces to help move teeth or correct jaw alignment issues.
  • Gingiva: This is the name for the tissue surrounding the teeth. Gingiva is a fibrous tissue that connects to the periodontal ligament.
  • Headgear: An external orthodontic appliance, attached to the back of the head, that helps move teeth and jaws.
  • Herbst Appliance: An orthodontic appliance that can help correct overbite and a number of other problems. This can be either fixed or removable, depending on patient needs.
  • Imaging: A generic term used for procedures like x-rays that allow us to create pictures and models of the teeth.
  • Lingual: Having to do with the tongue.
  • Lingual Braces: Braces applied to the inside, or tongue side, of the teeth.
  • Maxillary: Having to do with the upper jaw, usually used by dentists and orthodontists to refer to teeth, appliances, or other features.
  • Orthodontist: A dental specialist who has completed at least two years of specialized study in orthodontics on top of dental school.
  • Orthognathic Surgery: Jaw surgery, generally done in combination with traditional orthodontic treatment.
  • Overbite: A condition where the upper teeth bite too far over the lower teeth.
  • Radiograph: Another word for an x-ray.
  • Retainer: An orthodontic appliance used after orthodontic treatment to help maintain the alignment of the teeth while the tooth-supporting tissues of the mouth adjust to the new smile.
  • Retention: The period of time after treatment when retainers are used.
  • Straight Wire Appliance: A form of treatment where the archwire is straight and brackets are placed at specific angles in order to facilitate orthodontic treatment.

Schedule a Consultation with Your Kansas City & Sedalia Orthodontist

We hope you find this glossary useful – and if you'd like to see some of these terms in practice, we'd love to help. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have, or request an appointment online at one of our offices. We'll help you understand your orthodontic situation, choose a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle, and start on the path to a gorgeous new smile!