Retainer appliances are delivered after the active phase of your orthodontic treatment and help to hold and stabilize your teeth in their new positions. These appliances can be removable or fixed depending on your particular orthodontic situation and this will be discussed with you in detail when you near the end of treatment. Once delivered, an assistant will thoroughly instruct you on how to use the retainer and how to take proper care of your new appliances. It is vital to wear your retainers as directed in order to prevent any relapse of your treatment.
In order to improve the fit of your upper and lower teeth, you may be asked to wear elastic bands as part of your treatment. If your elastics are worn exactly as prescribed by the doctor and for the recommended duration per day, your treatment will progress smoothly, your end result will be ideal, and treatment time can be significantly reduced. However, if compliance is poor, expect to be in treatment for longer than estimated. That seems like a good motivator to me!
If your treatment requires an expansion of the upper arch or palate, the a palatal expander appliance may be required. This appliance works by placing gentle pressure on your upper teeth and palatal bone every time an adjustment or turn of the screw is made. The doctor and assistant will instruct you on how and when to adjust your expander. Typically these appliances are in the mouth for 6-8 months to stabilize the correction and may then be replaced with an interim retainer if required.
Headgear is a removable appliance used to modify facial growth and correct discrepancies between upper and lower jaw size. The most common headgear appliance has an inner bow that attaches to the upper molars and an outer bow that connects to a neck strap. This appliance is used when the upper jaw is positioned forward of the lower jaw. There is also a headgear appliance that corrects the opposite situation where the lower jaw is outgrowing the upper jaw, creating an underbite. A fixed upper expander appliance always accompanies this “reverse headgear”. Headgear is typically worn at night only (10-12 hours per day) for approximately 9-12 months, depending on the severity of the orthodontic problem.
A positioner is a removable appliance placed after the removal of braces in certain cases in order to complete final tooth movements or help prevent undesirable facial growth.
A spacer, or separator, is a tiny rubber band placed between your back molar teeth at the start of treatment in order to create a small amount of space. This space is then used to carefully fit bands around the molar teeth that can then be used for archwires and/or appliances. Separators are usually only in place for 7-10 days. If one falls out prior to your band-fitting appointment, make sure to call our office so we can arrange to have it replaced if needed.
A Herbst is a fixed appliance used to stimulate lower jaw growth mainly on younger children. The appliance works by holding the lower jaw in a forward position while also moving the upper molars backward. Herbst’s are often worn for approximately 12-16 months.