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Say What? Orthodontic Vocabulary to Help You Understand Your Next Appointment

Posted in FAQs, General, Related Conditions, Tips & Advice

The orthodontic world comes with its own set of vocabulary that may not mean much to patients at first. Of course, at myORTHODONTIST we’ll always explain it in the simplest way possible, and we’re ready to answer your questions over the phone or at our Calgary offices.

Still, there are a few unfamiliar words you might see or hear during your treatment or as you prepare for treatment. If you’re not sure what it means, feel free to ask! In the meantime, here are a few of the words you might hear that are used to explain what’s happening with your teeth:

  • Occlusion: This refers to teeth (the upper and lower teeth) coming together—how do they make contact? This is a neutral term: everyone has an occlusion. What we’re interested in as orthodontists is what your occlusion is like. More simply, an occlusion can be called a bite.
  • Malocclusion: This means “bad bite” and if you’re seeing an orthodontist in Calgary, you probably have one. A malocclusion refers to teeth that don’t fit together the way they should, perhaps because they’re crooked or crowded—there are many types of malocclusions. Many people are born with them, but certain habits (like thumb sucking as a child) or medical conditions can cause them, too. Orthodontic treatment seeks to correct malocclusions.
  • Mixed Dentition: When a child has both some primary teeth and some permanent teeth, he or she has mixed dentition. Orthodontic treatment is possible in patients that have mixed dentition, but it’s important to diagnose exactly what the issue is and what we’re seeking to correct before we proceed. With that understanding, orthodontic treatment may be able to prevent a certain malocclusion or make it less severe as the final adult teeth come in.
  • Diastema: This is a space between two teeth. Many people seek orthodontic treatment to correct a diastema because they don’t like the way it looks, but gaps between teeth can also cause a malocclusion that requires treatment for the sake of your oral health.

Have you heard some orthodontia-related words, but aren’t sure exactly what they mean? Contact us!

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