Orthodontic appliances are devices that are used to help move teeth, retrain muscles and change the shape of the jaw. They are used in both children and adults who have improper bites or jaws that are not properly aligned. These appliances can be removable or they can be fixed, and they are usually made out of metal, ceramic or plastic. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common orthodontic appliances and how they are used.
Removable appliances are just as they sound—they can be taken out by the patient when necessary. They are typically worn for shorter amounts of time than fixed appliances, and they may require more frequent adjustments by the orthodontist. Removable appliances can be used to treat a variety of different issues, including overbites, underbites, cross bites and open bites.
Some of the most common removable appliances include:
• palate expanders: which are used to widen the upper jaw in order to make room for adult teeth
• lip bumpers: which prevent the lips from protruding and help with overbites
• headgear: which helps to correct bite problems by holding the teeth in place while they are growing
Fixed appliances are cemented into place and can only be removed by an orthodontist. They typically require fewer adjustments than removable appliances, but they need to be worn for longer periods of time—usually between one and two years. Fixed appliances can also be used to treat a variety of different issues, such as overbites, underbites, cross bites and open bites. However, they are most commonly used to close gaps between teeth or to align crooked or crowded teeth.
The most common types of fixed appliances include:
• brackets: which are glued to each tooth and then connected with a wire
• bands: which go around back molars and provide support for brackets
• wires: which connect brackets and move teeth into proper alignment
There is a wide variety of orthodontic appliances that can be used to treat different dental issues in both children and adults. Removable appliances tend to be worn for shorter periods of time but require more frequent adjustments, while fixed appliances require less adjusting but need to be worn for longer durations. If you think you may need an orthodontic appliance, talk to your orthodontist today!