Defining Common Orthodontic Terms That Get Lost in Translation (G – L Edition)

May 23, 2017
Jason K. Bunch, DDS, MS

Defining Common Orthodontic Terms That Get Lost in Translation (G - L Edition)

Continuing our blog series on the jargon you’ll likely hear when visiting any of our seven Gorman & Bunch Orthodontics offices, below you’ll even more terms that often get lost in translation.

Be sure to to check out the A-F edition for everything from “Appliance” to “Fixed Retainer,” and continue reading for our G-L edition.

Did you miss out on terms A-F?

– G –


Also heard in dental offices, gingivitis occurs when the fibrous gingiva tissue at the base of your teeth gets irritated, causing redness and inflammation. It’s a mild form of periodontal (gum) disease, but can lead to more serious oral concerns if not addressed.

– H –

Hard Cast Retainer

After moving all teeth into proper position, we may ask you to wear a hard cast retainer full time for 10 weeks. This clear retainer fits snugly over your teeth and holds them securely into position while the adjoining bone matures. This critical step can help achieve a stable result that will last. We always advise our patients to wear a retainer that fits even years after treatment, so it’s vital to let us know immediately if your hard cast retainer ever breaks, gets lost, or fits poorly.


Everyone’s favorite orthodontic appliance, the headgear includes an external wire known as a facebow that gently guides the growth of your face and jaw by moving your teeth into the correct position. The device applies force to the facebow by a spring-loaded neck strap or head straps, which have a safety release that disconnects if the facebow is pulled or snagged.

Herbst Appliance

This appliance is used to correct skeletal imbalances where the lower jaw is behind the upper jaw. A combined restriction of upper jaw growth with an enhancement of lower jaw growth aids in the correction process. The Herbst appliance is generally worn between 12-15 months.


A hook is a welded or removable arm on your braces bracket where we attach the elastics.

– I –

Impacted Tooth

The term “impacted tooth” encompasses any tooth that has not yet emerged, does not have adequate space to grow, or is poorly positioned in your mouth and needs help coming in.


This is the first step in making a model of your teeth for creating personalized orthodontic appliances. They are made by seating into a container filled with a rubber-like material over your teeth. That material then hardens to produce a mold of your teeth, which we examine to create the proper orthodontic treatment plan for you. Not many people’s favorite process, but fortunately with our 3D digital scanners we have eliminated most traditional impressions from our offices!


Invisalign is a technology created using computer scanners and virtual reality to move teeth gradually using clear, customizable and removable appliances called aligners. Read more about our Invisalign treatment here.


Positioned at the front of our mouths, the four incisors are used to cut through food.

– L –

Ligature Tie

Typically made out of elastic, the ligature is the elastic tie we use to attach the bracket to the archwire. (Look here for a refresher on what “bracket” and “archwire” mean.)

Lower Bonded Retainer

After treatment with Invisalign or braces, we oftentimes place a lower bonded retainer behind the bottom front teeth, glued to the lower canine teeth. This “permanent” retainer keeps your lower teeth straight over the long term, without the potential for loss or damage with a removable retainer. Proper brushing and flossing are extremely important to keep this type of retainer clean and keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Are there other terms you’ve heard around our office that you’d like to know more about? Let us know in the comments below, and stay tuned for the M-Z edition coming soon!


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