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Braces: Common Appliances

Sometimes when you wear braces your treatment might also include wearing orthodontic appliances. In these instances, appliances are needed for your teeth and jaws to successfully move toward their corrected positions. There are a lot of different orthodontic appliances that may be part of your treatment, today we will be reviewing the most common and well-known appliances.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)
If you get traditional braces, you will become very familiar with elastics (also referred to as rubber bands). It may be surprising, but elastics are one of the most important components when wearing braces. To make this part more fun and less stressful, elastics are offered in many fun colors that allow patients to show off their personality.

There are several ways that elastics are used. Every appointment your orthodontist will make adjustments by manipulating the wires and change the strength of the elastics you are wearing. The elastics keep the wires attached to the brackets. Along with that, sometimes elastics are used for over and under bite adjustments and will be connected using hooks adhered to the wire. These elastics are removable and you must remember to wear those as instructed.

Separators (Spacers)
Before you get braces or an orthodontic appliance, your teeth must be ready for them and one way that your orthodontist may prepare your teeth is by inserting separators between some of your teeth. The most common placement is between molars to create space to attach metal bands on your teeth which help anchor the wires. These separators also create the necessary room to fit an appliance around your teeth such as a palatal expander. There are two common types of separators, rubber and metal, both are small rings that fit between your teeth and while you are wearing them you should avoid certain foods like caramel and anything sticky to avoid removing them.

Thanks to the movies and TV shows the most common image that people think of when they hear the word “headgear” is the acne ridden scrawny unpopular kid in high school with taped glasses with a head and mouth encased in metal. Headgear is a removable appliance most commonly worn to treat patients with an overbite or an under bite. To get the most out of headgear, it must be worn as directed or it can result in longer treatment time and even changes to the overall treatment plan. Unlike the movies, headgear has changed in style a lot over the years and is much more comfortable and mostly worn at night while sleeping.

Palatal Expander
The palatal expander “expands” (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. An expander is custom-made for you and fits over several top teeth in the back of the mouth. To activate the device, you simply turn the screw a very small amount each day with a special key which induces tension at the junction of the two palatal bones, causing them to gradually move apart. Your orthodontist will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander and when you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and to prevent regression.

Retainers are the final step to completing your orthodontic treatment, they come in two varieties, removable or fixed, and 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 and your orthodontist will instruct you on how to care for your retainer and about the duration of the wear.

Getting braces doesn’t always mean that you will need appliances as part of your treatment. Depending on the type of braces you select, and the adjustments needed will depend on what, if any, appliances you will need. Your orthodontist will be able to help you understand the different types of appliances you may need during your orthodontic treatment.

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