Many different types of appliances, both fixed to the teeth and removable, are used to help move teeth, retrain muscles and affect the jaws.
Modern orthodontic appliances work by placing gentle pressure on the teeth and jaws. The nature of your problem will determine which orthodontic approach will be the most effective for you.
Appliances can be generally divided into those fixed to the teeth and those not (removable).
Fixed appliances include:
- Braces —Braces are small attachments that are bonded to the outside of the teeth. They can be metal, ceramic (almost invisible) or brightly coloured. Light wires and elastics gradually press on the teeth and over time move them to their proper position. The duration of a treatment programme will depend on the severity of the problem, the treatment method used and the planned treatment goals. This could range from 3-6 months to 18-24 months.
- Special fixed appliances — Thumb-crib appliances may be fitted to discourage thumb-sucking or tongue thrusting habits.
A quad-helix or maxillary expansion appliance may be fitted to correct a crossbite and narrowing of the top jaw.
- Fixed space maintainers — If a “baby” tooth is lost prematurely, a space maintainer is used to keep the space open until the permanent tooth erupts. This can prevent future more complex problems developing.
Removable appliances include:
- Aligners —Invisalign is one of the types of aligners available to us to use as an alternative to braces. With the use of a series of clear, mouthguard-like aligners, teeth can be moved into their correct alignment.
- Removable plates — These are plastic plates that can move one or two or a group of teeth into a better position.
- Functional Appliances — These are plastic plates that utilise jaw function and growth to improve the alignment of the teeth and jaws.
- Space maintainers — These are fixed or removable devices designed to keep the space between teeth when “baby” teeth have been prematurely lost.
- Palatal expander — A plastic appliance used to widen the top jaw.