If you are beginning your orthodontic journey, it’s likely you’ll hear terms mentioned in the office that are new to you. If you or your child is told that some type of appliance is recommended to help achieve the perfect smile, it’s helpful to be familiar with what they are.
Here are descriptions of some of the most common orthodontic appliances.
Sometimes braces require gentle but continuous force to aid individual tooth movement or jaw realignment. This can be achieved using small elastics or rubberbands. They must be worn at all times, even when eating, to be fully effective.
One approach to creating more space for teeth is wearing headgear, which attaches to the braces with metal hooks or a facebow. Straps usually anchor the appliance to the back of the neck or head. Headgear is often used to draw the molars further back in the mouth to allow more space for shifting the front teeth as desired.
Widening the upper jaw to allow the upper and lower teeth to fit together better is possible with a palatal expander. For best results, it is used in patients under 15 who still have pliable jaw bones. The expander involves attaching a screw to the teeth with bands around the teeth, and then activating the expander by turning the screw with a key.
To correct a bite where the upper front teeth extend too far over the lower front teeth, a bite plate may be required to be worn for 24 hours a day for 3 to 6 months. This small acrylic appliance is clipped to the inside of the top teeth using metal clasps, and is typically used in the early stages of orthodontic treatment.
This appliance prevents the molars from moving and causing crowded teeth to spread. It basically offers a holding spot until permanent teeth come in.
There are several styles of retainers in use, but the purpose of each of them is to maintain treatment results after braces have been removed. Retainers offer the best way to ensure long-term orthodontic results.