Orthodontic treatment corrects a wide range of malocclusion problems to provide patients with a straight smile and properly aligned bite. Most people associate orthodontics with braces, but treatment often involves more than just brackets and wires. Here, Dr. Kellyn Hodges goes over different types of orthodontic appliances that may be used to help her Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd, and Bensalem, PA, patients achieve a straight and healthy smile.
Elastics, or rubber bands, are part of nearly every orthodontic treatment. Braces straighten the teeth and encourage them to shift into their proper position, but rubber bands are required to correct problems with the bite. Elastics hook onto braces brackets and connect from the upper jaw to the lower jaw. The positioning of elastics and their specific use varies based on treatment requirements, but it is essential that patients wear rubber bands exactly as directed, or treatment results will be compromised.
Twin Block Appliance
The twin block appliance is primarily used in younger children, or patients whose jaw is still growing. The twin block consists of two block-type appliances that fit together. These removable appliances are worn full time (usually for a period of six to nine months) to encourage forward growth of the lower jaw.
A palatal expander widens the upper jaw to allow for proper movement of the teeth. An expander is typically worn prior to braces placement. The expander widens the palate by placing gradual pressure on the upper molars. Pressure is applied by a metal “key” that is placed into the expander and turned. Patients are provided with instructions regarding how to turn the expander key, and how often to do so. As the expander takes effect, patients will likely notice that a slight gap forms between the upper front teeth. This is normal, and will be corrected with braces treatment.
A bite plate may be used at the beginning of orthodontic treatment to correct a deep bite, or one where the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth too much. A bite plate is an acrylic piece that clips onto the inside of the top teeth with metal clasps. A bite plate prevents the back teeth from touching, so patients need to bite with the front teeth when a bite plate is in place. A bite plate can feel very strange at first, but most patients adjust to it within a few days. Bite plates are removable, but should only be taken out for cleaning. If patients wear their bite plate as directed, it should provide desired results fairly quickly.
Headgear or Reverse Pull Headgear
Headgear or reverse pull headgear may be used to treat differences in growth between the upper and lower jaw. It is appropriate for patients who suffer from an overbite (where the upper teeth project much further than the lower teeth) or an underbite (where the lower teeth project further than the upper teeth). Headgear is usually used in younger orthodontic patients. Headgear is typically worn for at least 14 hours a day, and may be worn for up to one year.
A retainer is used at the end of orthodontic treatment. Retainers are removable pieces that hold the teeth and jaw in place so that the bite doesn’t revert back to its original position. Initially retainers should be worn 24 hours a day (other than when eating, brushing, or flossing). Once the teeth have settled into their new position - usually within a few weeks of braces removal - retainers only need to be worn at night. Retainers should be used lifelong to maintain orthodontic treatment results.
If you are interested in learning more about orthodontic treatment options, or the appliances that may be part of your treatment plan, Dr. Kellyn Hodges would be happy to answer any questions you have. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hodges, send us a message online, or call our practice at (215) 245-5100.