Orthodontic appliances are not just limited to fixed and removable braces. There are many devices available to correct jaw alignment irregularities and reposition the teeth. In some cases, traditional fixed or removable braces are used in conjunction with another type of orthodontic appliance, which serves to fulfill one of the following functions:
Expanding the palate to create space
Closing large gaps between the teeth
Correcting irregularities, such as an elongated mandible (lower jaw) bone or a short maxilla (upper jaw) bone
Alleviating crowding in the upper or lower jaw
Types of Orthodontic Appliances
Most types of orthodontic appliances treat a specific irregularity. The nature of your diagnosis points your dental professional towards the most effective treatment.
Here is a brief overview of some of the most commonly used orthodontic appliances:
Palatal expanders come in two styles: the bonded appliance and the banded appliance. These devices widen the upper arch to create room for the eruption of permanent teeth and are used to correct a narrow bite or crossbite. Palate expanders are fairly discreet and work effectively as long as the device is adjusted at the designated intervals. Some individuals experience slight difficulty speaking and eating until they have fully acclimated to the device.
Facemasks (Reverse Headgear)
Facemasks are designed to combat growth discrepancies between upper and lower jaw arches. In the case of a class III malocclusion, where the lower jaw grows faster than the upper jaw, the lower arch can look more prominent. Facemasks pull the upper arch forward and encourage its growth relative to the lower arch. This appliance consists of a frame, which fits around the head and elastics, which are directly applied to the teeth. Facemasks are removable, but must be worn for 12-20 hours a day to expedite treatment.
Headgear works to correct class II malocclusion, more commonly known as an overbite. In this case the maxilla or upper jaw is growing faster than the mandible or lower jaw. Headgear restricts upper jaw growth and allows the mandible to catch up. Headgear consists of a frame which fits around the head and is attached to braces and bands. In some cases, headgear is used to create space to move the front teeth backwards. As with facemasks, it is typically recommended to ear headgear for wear 12-20 hours each day.