Appliances Used By Beaches Orthodontics
During the course of your treatment, Dr. Patel will recommend different appliances for bite correction. Most of them require patient/parent compliance in order to be effective. These are tools used to adjust your teeth in cooperation with your brackets and wires. Appliances can apply the forces necessary to make adjustments on all three dental axes.
Elastics (“Rubber Bands”)
Almost every comprehensive orthodontic treatment plan will require elastic wear by the patient. The purpose of these bands is to improve the fit of the upper and lower teeth with each other. They vary in strength signified by different animals printed on the outside of the bag (this helps our younger patients identify which bands they are wearing). Elastics work most effectively when worn as prescribed and work to reduce overall treatment time.
Significant overbites have historically been corrected with a headgear, which attaches to the upper jaw to slow or stop it from growing. Since headgear has a negative connotation and relies on patient compliance, we at Beaches Orthodontics use Forsus springs instead. These devices are designed for adolescent patients whose jaws are still growing. The springs work similar to headgear or elastic bands with the benefit of not needing to be placed by the patient. The back of the spring attaches to the top back molar and the front attaches to the archwire next to the lower canine or bicuspid. The springs apply a steady & gentle pressure to the patient’s mouth, pushing the upper molars back, while at the same time bringing the lower arch forward. One of the biggest benefits to using Forsus is that parents no longer need to remind their children to wear the appliance. Once placed by the orthodontist, Forsus springs remain in the mouth until the desired affect is achieved (usually 4-6 months).
Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE)
When the roof of the mouth is narrow, resulting in a unilateral (one-side) or bilateral (both sides) crossbite, Dr. Patel will recommend a palatal expander. This appliance attaches to four teeth on the roof of the mouth (two on each side) and features a small gear in the center. Parents will be given a tiny wrench with instructions to turn the gear/expander at regular intervals (usually once a night for 30 days). Each turn of the expander places gentle pressure to widen the upper jaw. This appliance is most effective in younger patients (age 8-11), before the palatal suture fuses. Once the desired expansion has been achieved, we will keep the expander cemented in the mouth for at least 6 months for stabilization.
Reverse Pull Headgear (“Facemask”)
Facemask therapy is indicated in growing children with underbites (crossbite in the front of the mouth). The appliance pulls forward on the upper jaw, assisting its growth and allowing it to catch up with the lower jaw. To be effective, facemasks must be worn ~14 hours/day, when the child is sleeping. Depending on the severity of the bite and how much growth is taking place, treatment can last 12-18 months.
Separators or Spacers
If orthodontic bands or rings are needed for treatment (RPE, Facemask, Forsus springs), separators will be placed between the back molars prior to band fitting. The separators are small rubber bands, which gently push the molars apart to make room for the bands. They will be removed prior to cementing the bands. You will be asked to avoid sticky, chewy foods or floss while the separators are in place.
After your teeth have been straightened you will need to wear a retainer as advised by Dr. Patel. For at least the first 9-12 months after your braces are removed, you will be advised to wear retainers full time. This time allows for bone remodeling to minimize and for the teeth to stabilize in their new position. Wearing your retainers as prescribed is important in preventing regression of treatment. For more information about retainers, check out our retainer page.
Have questions about an appliance not mentioned here? Feel free to send us a quick message or ask us during your next appointment.