Types of Appliances

More than braces alone

To successfully complete an orthodontic treatment plan, patients must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if patient sconsistently wear their elastics (rubber bands), headgear, or other appliances as prescribed.

The following paragraphs describe common types of orthodontic appliances that may be used during your treatment.


Wearing elastics (rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth with each other. Braces can straighten the teeth, but rubber bands are often necessary to improve the bite. There are many different types of elastic used to correct the bite. Most often, elastics are worn full-time and only removed to eat and brush the teeth. Not wearing elastics exactly as prescribed will significantly increase the length of treatment time.


The Forsus® is designed to work like permanent rubber bands. It is used to improve the relationship between upper and lower teeth to improve your bite.


Headgear is used to treat patients whose teeth are in an “overbite,” (with the upper teeth and jaw forward of the lower) Headgear works by holding the upper jaw and teeth in place while the lower jaw grows forward. Headgear is typically worn 12 hours each night.


A lingual arch is placed on lower molars to keep them from shifting when teeth are lost or when there is significant crowding and primary teeth are still present. A wire bar connects the two sides of the lingual arch and rests comfortably behind the teeth.


The palatal expander widens the upper jaw by providing gentle pressure each time an adjustment is made. Your orthodontist will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and to prevent relapse.


Retainers may be removable or fixed. They hold your teeth in their new, correct positions after your teeth have been straightened. Your orthodontist will instruct you on how to care for your retainer and about the duration of the wear. Wearing your retainer as directed is crucial to prevent regression of your treatment.


Reverse headgear is used for patients with underbite tendencies. This headgear encourages forward growth of the upper jaw. Typically worn 12 hours each night, reverse headgear is typically used for young patients while modification of facial growth is still possible.


Separators are little rubber doughnuts that may be placed between your teeth to push them apart so that orthodontic bands may be placed during your next appointment. The separators will be removed before we place the bands. Separators can become dislodged with sticky foods or with toothpicks and floss. If they do become dislodged, please call the office so that they can be replaced before the next appointment.

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