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Glossary

Common Terms:
  • Bluegrass Appliance - The Bluegrass Appliance is a pain-free method to help children stop sucking their thumbs. At the latest, thumb-sucking should be stopped before the eruption of permanent teeth. The habit can lead to profound changes with the teeth and jaws.
  • Crossbite - A crossbite is when the upper teeth do not align with the lower teeth when biting down. It is another common malocclusion. A crossbite is usually a skeletal problem. A child may be born with a smaller than normal lower jaw. Mouth breathing can cause this condition, which results in severe tooth overcrowding. Initial treatment in children involves placing an expander in the roof of the mouth at night and widening it every night. Braces are used after this initial treatment.
  • Holding Arch - A holding arch maintains the existing space in the mouth. It is often used when a baby tooth is lost prematurely or to preserve "Leeway Space" (the space that is gained when a large baby tooth is replaced by a smaller adult tooth).
  • Malocclusion - Any non-ideal positioning of the teeth, especially with regard to position of the upper and lower teeth while biting.  Malocclusions are frequently a result of size and position of the upper and lower jaws.  Straightening teeth is often the easy part.  Overcoming genetics and ones natural biology makes alteration of jaw position and relations more difficult and variable.   Treatments are often most successful in growing patients, where jaw growth can be properly utilized by the orthodontist to correct a malocclusion.
  • Overbite - An overbite is when the upper teeth cover the lower teeth when biting the teeth together, and is a common malocclusion. It is usually caused by genetics. You probably inherited it from your parents or grandparents. In some cases an underdeveloped lower jaw causes it. Elastics are sometimes used with braces to force the lower jaw out and upper jaw in.
  • Palatal Expander - A palatal expander makes the upper jaw (maxilla) wider. This is often used to correct crossbites. By making the maxilla wider, palatal expanders also increase the space available for permanent teeth.
  • Underbite - An underbite is when the lower teeth are too far forward. This bite resembles a bulldog. An underbite is a common malocclusion. This dental condition occurs when the lower jaw protrudes up and out causing pain and pressure. This condition is the opposite of an overbite and is believed to be caused by genetics. It is much easier to treat in young patients. Underbites cause difficulty with speaking and chewing. You can expect results from braces and elastics with this common problem.
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