Types of Appliances
Achieving Your Perfect Smile
Appliances for Precise Orthodontics
Orthodontists use a variety of “appliances” and techniques to achieve desired results that contribute to the overall effectiveness of treatment. While most are aware of “braces” a type of “appliance,” other specialized dental devices can be added into a patient’s treatment plan. These devices or appliances are often needed to prepare the teeth or jaw for braces, or used in conjunction with orthodontic movement using braces. In all cases, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for use and care. We are experts in giving the information needed to use our appliances; but, cooperation from you, the patient, is the key factor in achieving the most effective and efficient treatment.
Elastics, or rubber bands, create the power that we use for you to move your teeth. When we show you where to place the elastics on your braces, we do it because we want teeth to move within the bone in which it sits. It is the elastics we use to “tell the teeth” to move to here or there. They attach to the brackets of your upper and lower braces, or even your aligners (in the case of Invisalign treatment), ensuring that the teeth are moved into proper alignment. It is important that elastics be worn as we ask all the time in order to be as effective as possible. Remember, you have a giant role in this process of “braces” by frequently cleaning and helping to move your teeth with elastics under our direction.
Headgear is used to treat an “overbite” (or what we call an “overjet”), which occurs when the upper jaw sits forward of the lower jaw, or an underbite, with the lower jaw forward of the upper jaw. The headgear will “pull” or “push” the your teeth gently to direct or restrict further forward or backward growth of the jaw bones, depending on your specific needs.
The Carriere Distalizer helps to correct a misaligned teeth demonstrating an overbite condition. By pushing upper teeth back, it can correct the molar tooth bite relationship before fitting a patient with braces.
We use the Herbst appliance to correct an overbite by encouraging the lower jaw to move forward, while gently pushing the upper molars backward. This is a fixed appliance, used primarily for younger children who are still growing. We have used it for more mature patients who can benefit from the specialized pressure delivery on a constant basis. Patients will typically wear the Herbst appliance for 12-15 months.
In cases where the upper jaw needs to be widened for effective orthodontic treatment, orthodontists will use a palatal expander. The expander is fitted into the patient’s mouth, putting gentle pressure on the upper teeth with each adjustment. Once the desired expansion has been achieved, the appliance is worn for several months to prevent relapse by allowing the palate bones to adjust to the new size.
Positioners are used in the final stages of orthodontic treatment, to control teeth as they settle into their newly achieved alignment. When used as instructed, positioners usually need to be worn only for 4-8 weeks to achieve desired corrections, but use often continues as a nighttime-only retainer.
Retainers come in removable and fixed placement varieties. These appliances are used to hold teeth in their proper position following orthodontic treatment. Retainers are the key to permanence. We never stop changing – first in growth, then as we age. Teeth are a very unique body part. In fact, they are the hardest substance in the body. We can hold teeth to set their position better than any other body structure.
It is the retainers we give you at the end of treatment that allow the bone to heal around the roots with the crown of the teeth in the corrected position. The jaw needs time to adjust and solidify the bone with the teeth in the correct beautiful position. It is the retainers with which we request you cooperate to allow the corrections to last a lifetime. Your ARCH orthodontist and our team will give you instructions about how to wear and care for your retainer for best results.
Spacers, sometimes called separators, are small circles made of rubber that an orthodontist will place between teeth to create room for orthodontic bands. Once enough room has been established, the spacers will be removed and the proper bands will be put into place. This process usually begins a week prior to starting.