So your dentist referred you to an orthodontist for treatment and it may seem a little frightening. There are plenty of things you will encounter during your orthodontic treatment that won't seem, well, normal at first; maybe even downright scary. Throughout the course of this brief article, you will be introduced to 6 appliances that you might encounter during your orthodontic treatment.
A bite plate is a device that's used for correcting a crossbite or deepbite. It is somewhat similar to a retainer in that it is a removable device that rests in the mouth. A bite plate must be worn at all times, however, although some people under the impression that it is a device that is only worn at night. When it is worn, your teeth will move towards the right position. The bite plate works to both straighten and evenly space your teeth. When your crossbite is fixed, you no longer have to wear the bite plate and other orthodontic work can begin.
Spacers are small rubber bands that fit behind, or sometimes around, the molars. They rest there, and are sometimes considered uncomfortable, but are fitted to create spaces between the molars. This is so that the orthodontist can fit the molars with metal objects called tooth braces or molar bands. Spacers are a very temporary phenomenon. Patients are usually only required to wear them for upwards of two weeks.
Headgear is perhaps the most demonized orthodontic treatment plan in popular culture. However, headgear is one of the best, most corrective strategies that an orthodontist can use to correct severe bite problems. Headgear is exactly as it sounds: it is headgear that is attached to the braces. Using an elastic band that comfortably fits around the head, it stretches or pushes the teeth apart or together, respectively. The result is that headgear can easily fix an overbite or underbite in upwards of one year to eighteen months.
A palatal expander is a device that is much like a retainer or bite plate. It fits onto the upper jaw and is used to expand the jaw such that the top and bottom teeth fit perfectly together. Wearing the palatal expander can actually result in a gap between the front two teeth, and you will then need to wear braces if you want to correct the gap between your teeth.
Retainers are perhaps the most well known of orthodontic devices aside from braces. A retainer is an orthodontic device that is specifically molded to fit your mouth in order to help maintain your teeth's position after you have your braces removed. They are made from clear plastic, though they may be translucent colored, and wire. They fit on both the top and bottom of the mouth. Retainers are set in place in order to keep teeth from becoming misaligned. They are generally worn after braces or other forms of realignment.
Holding arches, or lingual arches, are two metal bands that fit around the molars and a connecting arch that attaches the molars across the roof of the mouth. Holding arches are put into place to create spaces between the molars so that developing teeth do not rupture or crowd the teeth. Holding arches are not removable and most be kept in the mouth until the orthodontist deems it necessary for removal.
There you have it! Although orthodontic procedures and devices can seem scary, realize that they are necessary for nice, straight teeth. Once you get used to these devices, they shouldn't give you much trouble at all. Armed with the knowledge you have learned here, you should be ready to take on anything your orthodontist puts in your mouth!