Orthodontic Appliances: Types and Uses

Updated on May 30, 2022
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Having a dental condition is not the end of the world, even if it is the most painful experience. Dental conditions can remove the overall aesthetics of a person, so it is understandable if you want a permanent solution. There are many ways to fix such conditions, and one of them is using orthodontic appliances. But what exactly is an orthodontic appliance?

What Is an Orthodontic Appliance?

It is a dental device specifically designed for treating dental conditions. Several such conditions exist, so there are many matching appliances to serve each one. In other words, orthodontic appliances are not one-size-fits-all. There are devices for sleep apnea, snoring, crowded teeth, crooked teeth, and even irregularities in the jaw.

Some devices are removable, while some are not. There are a few that are both removable and fixed; the type will depend on the orthodontist. Sometimes, a device is designed to be fixed or removable, depending on the nature of the dental condition. 

However, these appliances are not sold as commodities you can pick and fit to wear. Each one is custom-made for an individual because each person’s mouth is different, one from another. The doctor takes an x-ray of your mouth and with it, they make a mold. That way, they are sure of creating an exact and comfortable fit for your mouth. An ill-fitting appliance can be uncomfortable and sometimes, painful.

Types and Uses of Orthodontic Appliances

If you are undergoing treatment for a dental condition that involves the orthodontic treatment, it is best to follow the doctor’s guide for using any recommended appliance. The recommendations are the most suitable course of action for lasting results. For example, some devices require you wear them for a specific number of months. Failure to do so may impair the treatment and cause more harm than good. Visit https://www.encyclopedia.com/ to read more about these appliances.

  • Reverse Headgear

If your teeth are such that the lower ones protrude further than the upper ones, your orthodontist may use this headgear as a corrective step. Over time, the headgear draws the upper teeth forward to align them with the lower ones. It is a slow process, so you may have to wear the device for some time.

  • Distal Jet

This piece is ideal for children still growing their milk teeth. Sometimes, teeth go out of position and need to be pushed back into place. So, the device moves the upper molars further into the mouth to create space for new teeth. It also serves to reduce the risk of crowding when permanent teeth begin to grow.

It may affect swallowing and speech for a little while. But with constant use, you can work around it. It is best to continue normal mouth movements and uses so that your tongue and lips can adapt to the change. Also, keep the mouth clean as much as possible to prevent plaque and swelling or discomfort. You may also want to rinse with warm water and salt often.

  • Elastics

These are also called rubber bands and are best for improving the fit of your bite. They are ideal for use with braces; braces can only straighten teeth so much. Without the elastics, the result may not be as well-formed as you want. However, it is crucial to wear them as prescribed by the doctor if you want to avoid discomfort and get the best results.

  • Twin Block

This appliance works on an over-bite. An overbite is when the upper row of teeth protrudes farther than the lower one. The device encourages the lower teeth to grow forward to align with the upper ones. You must wear it all the time so that the lower jaw becomes accustomed to the forward position to meet the upper one. Children benefit the most from it because they are still in their formative years. Typically, a user wears it between six to nine months for jaw adjustment.

  • Rapid Palatal Expander

The expander is a device that widens the upper jaw. It does this by putting pressure on the molars on the jaw every time there is a turn or adjustment. As the jaw expands, you may notice a space appearing between the upper teeth in front. Do not panic because it is a normal part of the process. After the upper jaw reaches the expansion you want, you may still have to wear the device for a few more months until the expansion solidifies. That way, the jaw does not regress.

  • Retainers

Retainers are the type of orthodontic appliances that can either be fixed or removed. Your doctor will decide which works best for you based on your specific dental needs. Retainers are best used after teeth straightening. If you had crooked teeth that were straightened, the next best step is to retain the new shape, and that is where retainers come into play.

  • Bite Plate

This device is used when a person has a deep bite. A deep bite is like an overbite, only more extensive. In this case, the upper teeth protrude much farther than the lower ones and give a disjointed look. Typically, a doctor uses the bite plate when you first begin treatment to correct the deep bite. 

Wearing it can be uncomfortable and strange, primarily because the back teeth do not touch. So, the front ones have to do the biting and chewing. You must wear it all the time; the only time you can remove it is for cleaning. The bite plate is safe, as are other such appliances. Read this article for more information about the safety of orthodontic devices.

  • Williams Expander

It is an appliance fixed in the mouth to develop the lower arch when a person still has their milk teeth, and widen the arch. The device works best for teeth crowding; as it slowly widens, it creates more space to improve lower placement. You may use a space maintainer to hold the newly-created space until the milk teeth fall out to be replaced by permanent ones.


Orthodontic appliances are reliable and easy to use if you follow the doctor’s orders. They are proven to correct dental conditions that may remain permanent otherwise. While many tend to be uncomfortable for the wearer, the discomfort resolves within a short period as the mouth adjusts to the device. However, it is crucial to follow the doctor’s recommendations to achieve the best results.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.