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November 18th 2021

Orthodontic Appliances, Expanders, and Retainers, Oh My!

orthodontic appliances phildelphia orthodontistsWhen most people think of an orthodontist they think of braces. But there is plenty more that’s at work in an orthodontist’s office than just brackets, wires, or Invisalign trays. Orthodontic appliance encompass a broad category of oral health care, and many items will be an essential part of your treatment.

The Importance of Orthodontic Appliances

Many orthodontic appliances do the critical job of prepping teeth and mouth for braces. Some appliances keep teeth in their newly straightened position. Other gadgets work in conjunction with braces. It all depends on what kind of alignment you have now and the complexity of the treatment needed to get to a straight smile.

Many appliances are so powerful they can enhance jaw growth, straighten teeth, and create facial balance where there was none. Every patient is different, and you will be evaluated on your unique teeth, gums, bites, and alignment before any sort of diagnosis is made or treatment recommended. Quite often, appliances are used as part of interceptive orthodontics – treatments that begin in childhood, often before all the baby teeth have been lost – to prep the mouth for less complex orthodontic treatment when the patient is a tween or teen.

Types of Orthodontic Appliances

Orthodontists understand that you don’t want more gear in your mouth than necessary. That’s why it’s important for patients to understand that their orthodontist only recommends an appliance when it will be of the greatest good to you and your oral health. Quite often, early interventions with targeted, efficient appliances help minimize overall treatment time and improve results. Follow your orthodontist’s rules and a beautiful, healthy smile will be the result.

Here are some of the most common orthodontic appliances:

  • Expander: A palatal expander is used to help the upper jaw grow to the appropriate width, typically before full orthodontic treatment begins. Permanent teeth get more room to erupt and crowding is minimized for a wider smile that allows upper and lower teeth to match together nicely. A narrow palate, a condition that usually calls for an expander, can be caused by genetics, thumb sucking, or tongue posture.
  • Herbst appliance: Kids are great orthodontic patients because their jaws are still growing, a key that the Herbst appliance is designed to take advantage of. This compact appliance fits discreetly inside the cheeks to encourage development of the lower jaw to move it forward into alignment with the upper jaw. The Herbst device is usually used in conjunction with braces.
  • Retainer: Retainers are the one thing that every orthodontic patient has in common. You may not want a customized retainer after your braces have been removed (or after you’ve finished Invisalign), but you need it to make sure your newly shifted teeth stay in position. But don’t worry. The retainer may be worn 24/7 at the start, but soon you’ll only have to wear it while you sleep. And that’s easy.


Get Your Orthodontic Journey Started

Orthodontics is a complicated business. Moving your teeth from incorrect positions into the right spots is a fine art that your provider has mastered. He or she knows the best tools to get your mouth to move into compliance as quickly and seamlessly as possible. If your orthodontist says you need an orthodontic appliance, you just do. Ultimately, your treatment will be better off for it.

Learn more about what’s right for your braces or your child’s braces. Contact Philadelphia Orthodontists in Center City to schedule a consultation with Drs. Roberts or de Marsche.

Roberts & de Marsche Orthodontics

William W. Roberts III, D.M.D & Tanja J. de Marsche, D.M.D
Orthodontists in Woodinville WA

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