Types of Appliances

Expander | Herbst | Pendex | Tongue Thrusting Appliance |
Thumb/Finger Appliance | Headgear | Spring Aligner

Expander

 

The Expander is an orthodontic appliance used to create a wider space in the upper jaw. It is typically used when the upper jaw is too narrow for the lower jaw or when the upper teeth are crowded or blocked out of the dental arch.

When patients are still growing, their connective tissue between the left and right halves of their upper jaw is very responsive to expansion. By simply activating the expander through turning a screw in the center of the palatal expander, with a special key we provide, gradual outward pressure is placed on the left and right halves of the upper jaw. This pressure causes an increased amount of bone to grow between the right and left halves of the jaw, ultimately resulting in an increased width.

Treatment usually takes at least six months to allow for bone growth in the expanded area.

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Herbst

One of the most common problems orthodontists treat is the discrepancy that occurs when the upper teeth protrude beyond the lower. Ordinarily, when we see a patient with the upper teeth protruding, we tend to think that the upper jaw and teeth are too far forward; but, more often than not, this condition is due to a small lower jaw that is further back than it should be. With these patients, we would like to encourage the lower jaw to catch up in growth, and braces like the Herbst appliance help this happen.

Even though the Herbst appliance prevents the lower jaw from moving backward, opening and closing movement still occur easily, and patients do not have any problems learning to chew their food with their lower jaw in this new position.

As with all kinds of braces, patients with Herbst appliances need to be careful about what they eat. For instance, cold foods such as ice slushes, Popsicles and ice will freeze the cement and make the brace loosen. Sticky foods such as caramels, bubble gum and candy suckers will pull the brace away from the teeth. Hard foods like crisp vegetables and hard candies will bend and loosen the Herbst appliance, too. So stay away from these foods during your orthodontic treatment.

Your Herbst appliance will be checked and adjusted at your appointments. If, sometimes between appointments, you develop some sore areas on the inside of your cheeks, please do not try to adjust the appliance yourself. Call for an appointment so that the necessary adjustments can be made.

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Pendex

The Pendex Appliance is a Pendulum Appliance that uses an expansion screw to widen the upper palate, correcting class II malocclusions and the patient’s bite.

The Pendex Appliance consists of a plastic “button” that touches the roof of the mouth. Within this button, there is a keyhole where you are to place the key and turn it according to your orthodontist’s instructions. This turning will widen the appliance, thus widening your upper palate. Patients usually wear this appliance for three to six months.

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Tongue Thrusting Appliance

Tongue thrusting occurs when the patient presses his or her tongue against the front teeth, usually when swallowing, speaking or resting the tongue. If thrusting is constant, this can cause problems with teeth alignment and must be fixed.

We prefer to correct tongue thrusting by giving patients a tongue thrusting appliance. This appliance, similar to a mouth guard, is usually worn at night. Other times, a more permanent appliance is prescribed and can be only be adjusted by our office.

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Thumb/Finger Appliance

Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children usually cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to your dentist.

One solution to thumb sucking is an appliance called a "fixed palatal crib." This appliance is put on the child's upper teeth by an orthodontist. It’s placed behind on the upper teeth on the roof of the mouth. The crib consists of semicircular stainless steel wires that are fastened to molars using steel bands. The stainless steel wires fit behind the child's upper front teeth, and they are barely visible. The crib usually stops the habit of thumb sucking within the first day of use.

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Headgear

Headgear is used to correct skeletal problems in young children. At an early age, we can change the development of their skeletal structure to improve the growth of the jaws to make them more harmonious. Headgear can be used to correct excessive overbite (Over development of upper jaw) or underbite (over development of lower jaw). The severity of the problem determines the length of time headgear needs to be worn and if the appliance will be high pull, low pull, straight pull or reverse pull.

The key to success with your headgear appliance is consistency. Headgear must be worn a certain number of hours per day, and if not, it must be made up the following day. Headgear should never be worn while playing sports and should also be removed while eating or brushing your teeth.

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Spring Aligner

The Spring Aligner Appliance requires little or no adjustment and minimal chair time, making it a fast and easy option for improving anterior rotations. Because it is a pre-adjusted appliance, no adjustment appointments are needed! Another feature that makes the Spring Aligner unique and desirable is the fact that it can also serve as a post-treatment retainer, saving you both time and money.

The Spring Aligner is created by constructing a model in which the anterior teeth are reset into the ideal position. The appliance is fabricated to match the model, and, because wire spring gives the appliance the flexibility to seat properly, adjustments are not generally required.
Slight discomfort may be experienced during the first week of wearing the Spring Aligner, but as the teeth move, the discomfort will subside.

Once tooth movement is complete, the appliance can then be used as a retainer. Once the retention phase has ended, the appliance can be used as a guide to check the teeth and assure that no relapse has occurred. If movement does occur after a patient completes his or her retention phase, a nighttime retainer will be recommended indefinitely.

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