What are some common orthodontic appliances?

In some cases, we may have to design a treatment that uses some appliances. Common appliances used during orthodontic treatment include the following:

  • Elastics (Rubber Bands): Wearing elastics (rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. Wear rubber bands as instructed because the rubber bands work far more efficiently if they are worn as prescribed.
  • Herbst® Appliance: The Herbst appliance reduces overbite by encouraging the lower jaw forward and the upper molars backward. This fixed appliance is used mostly for younger, growing children and is worn for about 12-15 months.
  • Expander: There are two general types of expanders: the palatal expander and the lower lingual expander. They both basically do the same thing, but are designed differently to be used in either the upper jaw (palatal expander) or the lower jaw (lower lingual expander). An expander is used to slightly increase the sizes of the jaws to relieve the crowding or lack of space to allow straightening of crooked teeth. Expanders widen by putting gentle pressure on your back molars each time an adjustment is made. We will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander, if needed. When the required expansion has been achieved, they are usually then left in place for a short period of time to stabilize and maintain these changes.
  • Retainers: Retainers may be removable or fixed. They hold your teeth in their new, correct positions after your teeth have been straightened. Wearing your retainer as directed is crucial to prevent regression of your treatment.
  • Separators: An orthodontic band, which is a brace that is attached to a tooth by completely surrounding it, is not used as often in orthodontics today as they used to be. On the occasion that they are required, a small space between the teeth where the band is to be placed is needed. A separator does that for us. They are temporary little rubber doughnuts that, when placed between your teeth, push them apart so that an orthodontic band may be placed during your next appointment. The separators will be removed before we place the band.
  • Holding Arches and Space Maintainer (Spacers): Holding arches are a fixed or permanent form of a retainer. Generally, they are used prior to all the permanent teeth erupting into the mouth. They will hold open space for these permanent teeth while they are coming in. The space we are holding open may have been a result of premature loss of a baby tooth or a successful Phase-one orthodontic treatment.