Orthodontic appliances are devices that help correct the alignment of the teeth and jaw. These may be permanently fixed in place, or they may be removable by the wearer. Orthodontic appliances are used for a variety of problems, including crossbite, crowding, and malocclusion.
A palatal expander widens the upper jaw so that the upper and lower teeth fit together correctly. It’s best used on kids ages 7 to 10 because the upper jaw is more pliable at that age but, it can be used in people of all ages depending on the severity of the problem. The device has a keyhole, and is activated regularly to correct crossbites and crowding.
Reverse pull headgear is used to treat class III malocclusions that occur in less than 1% of the population. Part of the appliance is cement to the back teeth and the other part is attached during the night to help stimulate jaw growth. In most cases, it’s used to correct anteroposterior discrepancies and overjet, although it’s less commonly used than in previous decades due to advancements in orthodontic technology. It brings the upper jaw forward, while keeping the growth of the lower jaw stable.
This appliance prevents permanent molars from shifting forward, reducing crowding and allowing the teeth to spread out into available space. Installed during childhood, it remains in place until all of the permanent teeth are finished erupting. It consists of a u-shaped bar attached to two bands around the lower molars.
A quad helix is attached to the molars with two bands, like a holding arch. Two or four helix springs widen the arch of the mouth, making room for crowded teeth. It can also be used to correct a posterior crossbite.
The Nance holding arch has two bands around the molars, plus an acrylic “button” at the anterior palate. This can help maintain space for permanent teeth if baby teeth are lost prematurely.
Hawley retainers are the “classic” style of orthodontic retainer, made from acrylic and metal wire. They hold the teeth in place after braces are removed, preventing them from shifting back into their original positions. These are generally worn indefinitely. Initially, for the first three months, they are worn all time time, except during meals. Then, people generally taper their use, eventually wearing them only at night. Wearing a retainer because a night time habit and is the best way to assure that your teeth will stay straight.
An alternative to the Hawley retainer, Essix retainers are made from clear plastic, resembling Invisalign. They are custom made for each patient, and are surprisingly durable.
A bonded retainer has a braided wire that is glued to the back of the lower front teeth. It isn’t removable, which some people prefer.
Bite turbos are devices used to expedite the movement of teeth during orthodontic work. Typically made from either acrylic or metal, they are small “blocks” that prevent the teeth from biting in the same habitual way. When used in combination of traditional fixed orthodontic appliances, like braces, it allows for more movement of the teeth, maximizing the force of the braces to shift teeth into their proper place.
Considered a deep bite corrector, they are most often used for excessive overbites and deep bites. The advantage of using turbos is that they can shorten the length of treatment time for the patient. Once placed, a bite turbo will make it feel like the teeth at the back don’t touch when chewing and can cause an uneasy feeling for the patient. Only a temporary sensation, once the patient gets used to it, it usually doesn’t cause any further discomfort.
Bite turbos are temporary appliances that are typically only placed for approximately six to twelve months, depending on the severity of correction needed and the treatment plan. The bite turbo is removed when an orthodontist sees that the teeth are in proper placement. As simple to remove as to place, once gone, the patient has made significant progress towards the finish of their orthodontic care plan.