Online Dental Education Library
Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.
Types of Appliances
Orthodontics is a highly advanced and specialized field of dentistry. Orthodontists use many different types of appliances to ensure effectiveness of the treatment to get excellent results for a great smile. The needs of each patient are unique and each treatment plan varies accordingly from patient to patient. Some patients require the use a single type of orthodontic appliance while others may require a combination of more than one appliance.
Separators help to make room for the metal bands of braces. Separators are small circles made of rubber and are placed in between the teeth to intentionally create a space between two teeth so that a band can be easily placed around the tooth. Once the bands of the braces are placed, the separators are removed. Separators can easily be displaced when a person flosses or eats so be careful not to loosen them until we remove them.
Elastics are more commonly referred as rubber bands. The main purpose of elastics is to assist with the the alignment of the lower and upper teeth. Elastics can be worn and attached in various ways. They can be attached from back teeth to front or from the top teeth to bottom. It is vital that they are worn according to the exact instructions of the orthodontist to ensure it serves its intended purpose.
Headgear is an easily removable orthodontic appliance, which is used for treating patients who suffer from an underbite or overbite.
It consists of a strap with elastics or springs, and a facebow which is made of metal. The facebow may be fitted to a retainer or to molar bands. Its main purpose is to exert pressure on the braces attached to specific teeth to help in jaw alignment. The amount of time required to wear the headgear is prescribed by the orthodontist, which greatly depends upon the severity of the condition.
A Herbst appliance is also used for correction of overbite. The Herbst appliance grips the patient's lower jaw forward to aid in pushing the upper teeth back in the patient's mouth. The treatment period of this appliance, which is not removable, is about 12 to 15 months.
An expander is placed in the palate and helps to widen the patient's upper palate. It is a fixed appliance, which exerts pressure on the patient's upper molars whenever it is adjusted. The need of adjustment is decided by the orthodontist and depends on how much the expansion of the palate is required.
The expander needs to be worn for several months after the desired expansion is achieved to retain the width.
Positioners are made of plastic that resemble the mouthpieces used in sports. The purpose of the positioner is to shorten the treatment period by using it to complete the treatment being carried out by another orthodontic device. It is often used after the braces are removed and it helps the teeth to be properly positioned.
A retainer is exactly what its name implies. It retains the teeth in their correct position and alignment after the treatment is finished. They are usually made of plastic with metal wires that hold the teeth in their new positions. Retainers are essential to maintain the position of the teeth and are usually removable. Some retainers can be active, meaning they intentionally move the teeth, and other retainers are fixed, meaning they are not removable.