Appliances are used during various stages of the orthodontic process, either to retain the new position of teeth, or in some cases to influence the growth of the jaws for a better bite alignment. Appliances may be fixed or removable.
Removable appliances, unlike conventional braces, are used to retain teeth in their corrected positions and in some cases, to influence growth of the jaws in order to effect changes in facial structure. In addition, they are often used before and in conjunction with fixed appliances.
Removable appliances are not utilized to treat all orthodontic problems. It takes skill, and experience to recognize conditions that will respond favorably to removable appliances. Timing of such therapy also is very important.
Although removable appliances can easily be taken out by the patient, there may be a tendency not to wear them as we have prescribed. This means your teeth, jaws and muscles may move back toward their original positions.
Removable appliances require care. Although you may notice an effect on eating and speaking along with an increase in the flow of saliva, you will eventually adjust to the appliance.
Types of Appliances
- Retainers: A retainer is used after braces are removed to hold teeth in their new positions. You must wear your retainer as prescribed to prevent regression of your treatment.
- Twinblock® Appliance: Used to correct overbites, this removable orthodontic appliance is typically used on younger patients.
- Expanders: Designed to widen your upper and or lower jaw, an expander applies outward pressure on your upper/lower teeth to either quickly or slowly expand your dental arches.
- Spacers (Separators): Spacers are plastic rings that are inserted between back teeth before you have braces, providing space for your teeth to shift. If a spacer comes out, call our office to see if you need a replacement. Do not chew sticky foods with or floss teeth that have spacers in them.
- Elastics (Rubber Bands): Rubber bands are used with fixed braces or “Invisalign”. They must be worn at all times and changed daily per our instructions.
- Headgear: For a severe overbite or underbite, headgear is sometimes used to continuously pull on your teeth, restricting or promoting further growth.
- Positioners: Designed to complete the final tooth movements when necessary, positioners are usually the last step in the orthodontic process.
Care of Appliances
As with retainers, all orthodontic appliances should be worn as prescribed. They should be cleaned with toothpaste once a day, and if removed for eating or sports, they should be placed in their container, never in a pocket or napkin where they may be broken or thrown away.
Pain and Soreness
It is normal for new or recently adjusted appliances to cause soreness or a slight alteration of speech for a few days following your appointment. If you experience a sore spot on the gums, however, please call our office so that we can make an appropriate adjustment.