Occlusion – the contact relationship of the teeth, or how the teeth ‘mesh’ when one bites.
The top and bottom teeth are supposed to fit together in a particular way, what we call an ‘ideal occlusion’. When they fit together properly, they function optimally, contribute to general oral health, are more readily maintained by the patient and the dentist for the long term. And they look nice.
Malocclusion – an improper ‘bite’. The teeth do not come together as they should.
We evaluate the tooth to tooth contacts in the three planes of space; front to back, side to side, and vertically. Understandably, we have our own words we use to describe the malocclusion. When we look at the patient’s ‘bite’ you will hear us say things like Class I, Class II, Class III, anterior cross-bite, posterior cross-bite, deep bite, open bite and so on. During the initial exam we will show you (the parent) the patient’s teeth and bite and explain what it all means.
Appliance(s) – Almost everything we put in your mouth we refer to as an appliance. Each appliance does a specific job. An expansion appliance expands. Braces (bands, brackets & wires) level, align and move teeth.
Many of the devices we use are made with metal bands, wires and plastic. Some are ‘glued’ to the teeth, some of them are removable. We will explain to you what appliances we will be using as part of your treatment, what it will do for you and what you can expect to feel.
Brackets – the small metal piece that is ‘glued’ on the front surface of the tooth. What you would probably call ‘braces’.
Bands – metal rings that fit around teeth. Also what you would probably call ‘braces’.
They are used primarily on back teeth and are cemented on the teeth. When we use bands, we select the correct size band for your tooth (like finding the right size ring) from the ‘bandbox’. Bands usually have some type of attachment welded on them, like a tube that an arch wire slides into, or a hook or a cleat, something used to hold elastics.
Brackets and Bands – are a means of ‘grabbing ahold’ of the tooth. If we want to move a tooth, we need to attach something to it, and then apply a force. The brackets and bands have a ‘slot’ or ‘tube’ into which the arch wire is placed. The teeth are like ‘beads on a string’ – we slide the teeth along the wire.
Arch wire – the wire that extends across the front of the teeth and fits into the slot in the brackets and the tube in the bands.
Arch wires are made from a variety of materials and come in different cross-sectional shapes (round and rectangular) and sizes. You will hear us speak of “014 nitinol” and “18 x 25 steel” and others. As we proceed through treatment we generally progress to bigger stiffer wires.
Separators – small donut-shaped rubber bands that are placed between back teeth several days prior to fitting bands. The separators gently move the teeth apart, so that the band can be easily fitted on the tooth. The amount they move the teeth apart is equal to the thickness of the metal. Teeth that are being moved, either by separators or by ‘braces’ are slightly sore and slightly sensitive to biting pressure for a day or two.