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Braces, Retainers, Palatal Expanders, Oh My!

orthodontic-appliancesSan Diego, CA – Children should visit an orthodontist by the age of seven. This is because many orthodontic issues can be monitored, allowing the orthodontist to begin treatment at precisely the correct time to have the most impact.

During the course of your child’s orthodontic treatment, you’ll probably hear the names of several different types of orthodontic appliances. Dr. Santiago Surillo, a San Diego pediatric dentist and orthodontist, explains some of the most common.

Braces
Braces are the most common orthodontic appliance and what people generally associate with orthodontic treatment. Braces guide teeth to their proper locations, ensuring a healthy bite. But today’s braces come in a variety of forms. Traditional metal braces are still the most common, but there are also clear and ceramic options, self-ligating and lingual braces, as well as clear aligners.

Retainers
Retainers are a crucial part of the orthodontic process. When your braces come off, the teeth will be in their new locations, but they won’t stay the way without a retainer. The tissues and ligaments of your mouth are elastic, so without something to hold the teeth in their new locations, they’ll have tendency to shift back to their previous locations. Retainers ensure the teeth will stay in their newly aligned spots. Patients will need to wear their retainers as explained by their orthodontists.

Rubber Bands
Rubber bands are used with braces to apply extra force to allow the teeth to move to their desired positions. The will connect from a bracket on a top tooth to a bracket on a bottom tooth.

Headgear
Headgear is used in conjunction with braces, connecting to the back of the braces. Headgear allows for additional force to be used that will guide the teeth and jaws. Headgear is usually temporary, and worn at night.

Temporary Anchorage Devices (TADs)
TADs are mini screws that are used to provide a fixed point to which pressure can be applied to move teeth. The TADs are placed directly in the bone of the mouth, and allow for more predictable tooth movement.

Palatal Expanders
Palatal expanders are a commonly used orthodontic appliance, designed to expand a patient’s dental arch to allow adequate room for the permanent teeth to erupt. Patients will turn the expander to activate it, and each turn will gradually widen the arch until it has reached its desired expansion.

Herbst Appliance
An Herbst appliance can be used to correct an overbite by helping the lower jaw catch up in growth. The Herbst appliance is attached to the back molars on the upper and lower jaws by cementing bands in place. It will then work to prevent the lower jaw from moving backward.

Space Maintainers
Space maintainers ensure that teeth cannot drift to a space left open by a tooth that was lost too early. The fixed appliance is anchored to the molars with a bar that extends from one side of the arch to the other along the inside of the mouth.

“We have a variety of appliances available to ensure our patients finish treatment with the best, and healthiest functioning, smile possible,” says Dr. Surillo. “When patients visit our office after their seventh birthdays, we can monitor their growth and determine if and when treatment is needed, and what will be the most ideal plan.”

To schedule a consultation to learn more about orthodontic appliances, call Dr. Surillo today at 619-461-6166.

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