Types of Braces
Traditional Metal Braces
Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are more comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth using metal brackets and archwires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding colored elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and colorful smile.
Ceramic braces are made of clear materials and are therefore less visible on your teeth than metal braces. For this reason, ceramic braces are used mainly on older teenagers and adult patients who have cosmetic concerns. While they are visually less prominent, they do require more attention to oral hygiene as ceramic braces are larger and more brittle than their metal counterparts. For these reasons, ceramic braces tend to be used more on upper front teeth than on lower teeth.
Types of Appliances
To successfully complete your orthodontic treatment plan, patients must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the elastics (rubber bands), headgear or other appliances as prescribed.
Elastics (Rubber Bands)
Wearing elastics improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. Wear rubber bands as instructed because the rubber bands work far more efficiently if they are worn as prescribed.
Headgear is used to treat patients whose teeth are in an “overbite” (with the uppers forward of the lowers) or an “underbite” (with the lowers forward of the uppers). Headgear gently “pulls” on your teeth to restrict further forward growth of your upper teeth and jaw.
The Herbst appliance reduces overbite by encouraging the lower jaw forward and the upper molars backward. This fixed appliance is used mostly for younger, growing children and is worn for about 12-15 months.
The palatal expander “expands” (widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. Your orthodontist will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and to prevent regression.
Separators are little rubber doughnuts that may be placed between your teeth to push them apart so that orthodontic bands may be placed during your next appointment. The separators will be removed before we place the bands. Separators do not mix well with sticky foods or with toothpicks and floss.
T.S.A. (Thumb-Sucking Appliance) helps to prevent the patient from being able to place their thumb in their palate.
T.P.A. (Trans Palatal Arch) is an anchoring device used on the molar teeth to keep them from drifting forward when closing extraction spaces.
Pendulum is a spring-loaded appliance, which pushes upper molar teeth back into a more normal position.
Retainers may be removable or fixed. They hold your teeth in their new, correct positions after your teeth have been straightened. Your orthodontist will instruct you on how to care for your retainer and about the duration of the wear. Wearing your retainer as directed is crucial to prevent regression of your treatment.
Conventional retainers consist of acrylic in the palate and a wire controlling the arch of the teeth, to keep them straight. (This type of retainer can be adjusted; springs can also be added for making minor corrections to stubborn teeth.)
This is a clear plastic retainer, which forms a vacuum-like seal over the teeth to keep them straight. (This type of retainer cannot be adjusted, but should be checked regularly.)