Orthodontics isn't just about braces and Invisalign. Often, we create metal or acrylic appliances at our in-house lab which can be used for different reasons at different points of treatment. Sometimes they are removable, other times they are fixed in place for a period of time.
Sometimes it is necessary to undergo a 'first phase' of treatment, for children and young teenagers. This is normally to expand the arches, gain space, modify skeletal growth, correct cross bites and open deep bites. This may be the only treatment some patients need if their concerns are only mild.
Most orthodontic patients will also use some form of appliance during their braces treatment. This may be a clear silicone plate to wear to bed to prevent you grinding your teeth against the brackets, or it may be headgear to help the elastics do their job.
Braces off? Orthodontic treatment is not over! We continue to use appliances to hold your teeth in place, once braces or Invisalign is complete. These include fixed wires and removable retainers.
The lip bumper appliance is used to push the lower lip slightly outwards, so it is not resting against the teeth. When the lip is not there to restrain the teeth, teeth will drift outwards, which in turn makes space and reduces crowding.
Extraoral traction appliance, known as headgear, is a strap is placed around the back of the head and attached to a metal wire in front, or face bow. Headgear slows the growth of the upper jaw, and holds the back teeth where they are while the front teeth are pulled back.
Gradual expansion appliances are metal plates which are able to use gentle but constant force to push outwards, expanding the arch. These are best suited for children too young for other expansion methods.
Removable expansion appliances, or expansion bite planes, use the same key and screw mechanism to gain expansion as a rapid expansion appliance. The plate is made from acrylic which is thicker where the teeth meet, designed to open deep bites.
Rapid expansion appliances are plates made from metal or resin which are fitted for a period of 3 - 6 months, and require patient and parent assistance in turning a key which expands the plate, and in turn the mouth.