Orthodontic Terminology Defined by Our Tacoma Orthodontist

girl with bracesAt Douglas Knight Orthodontics, we provide quality orthodontic treatment to help you achieve your best smile possible, and we believe that an important part of the process is educating our patients. Our Tacoma orthodontist Dr. Douglas Knight will work with you side-by-side from your first consultation through treatment completion to help you understand your treatment options such as clear braces or Invisalign, your customized plan and any questions you might have. You can read more below about common orthodontic terms that you might hear Dr. Knight refer to, common bite problems and more!


A wire engaged in orthodontic attachments, affixed to the crowns of two or more teeth and capable of causing or guiding tooth movement.

band (orthodontic)

A thin metal ring, usually stainless steel, which serves to secure orthodontic attachments to a tooth. The band, with orthodontic attachments welded or soldered to it, is closely adapted to fit the contours of the tooth and then cemented into place.


An orthodontic attachment that is secured to a tooth (either by bonding or banding) for the purpose of engaging an archwire. Brackets can be fabricated from metal, ceramic or plastic.

ceramic brackets

Crystalline, alumina, tooth-shade or clear synthetic sapphire brackets that are aesthetically more attractive than conventional metal attachments.


Dental malalignment caused by inadequate space for the teeth.


The removal of cemented orthodontic bands.

elastics (rubber bands)

Used to move teeth in prescribed direction (commonly connected to molar band and upper ball hook). Found in numerous colors for better appearance.


The tissue that surrounds the teeth, consisting of a fibrous tissue that is continuous with the periodontal ligament and mucosal covering.


Generic term for extraoral traction (attached around the back side of the head) for growth modification, tooth movement and anchorage.

Herbst appliance

Fixed or removable appliance designed commonly for overbite problems and more.


The process of acquiring representations of structures in either two or three dimensions.


Of or pertaining to the tongue. A term used to describe surfaces and directions toward the tongue.

lingual appliances

Orthodontic appliances fixed to the lingual surface of the teeth.


Of or pertaining to the upper jaw. May be used to describe teeth, dental restorations, orthodontic appliances or facial structures.


A dental specialist who has completed an advanced post-doctoral course, accredited by the American Dental Association, of at least two academic years in the special area of orthodontics.

orthognathic surgery

Surgery to alter relationships of teeth and/or supporting bones, usually accomplished in conjunction with orthodontic therapy.


Vertical overlapping of upper teeth over lower teeth, usually measured perpendicular to the occlusal plane.


A permanent image, typically on film, produced by ionizing radiation. Sometimes called an X-ray after the most common source of image-producing radiation.


Any orthodontic appliance, fixed or removable, used to maintain the position of the teeth following corrective treatment.


The passive treatment period following active orthodontic correction during which retaining appliances may be used.

straight wire appliance

A variation of the edgewise appliance in which brackets are angulated to minimize multiple archwire bends. Brackets and molar tubes have specific orientation in three planes of space.

Contact our Tacoma Orthodontic Office

We know that orthodontic treatment can be daunting, which is why we focus on patient communication to make sure you feel comfortable and informed every step of the way. Whether you are looking for Invisalign in Tacoma or are interested in braces, every one of our patients has a different smile and different orthodontic needs, so visit us for a consultation and we will determine the best solution for you. We are conveniently located in Tacoma, WA and proudly serve children, teens and adults throughout the surrounding communities. Contact us today!