There are several types of appliances that can be used to straighten teeth and correct jaw alignment. The type used for each patient will depend on that patient’s individual orthodontic problems and treatment plan.
The most common type of braces are made of metal. Most people that you see with braces probably have this type. Patients frequently customize these braces with different colors that can be placed over the brackets and can be changed at each appointment.
Clear braces are very much like the traditional metal braces, except they are made of a translucent material very close to the color of teeth. While not really invisible, they are less noticeable than metal braces.
Both clear and metal braces can work very well to align a patient’s teeth. Both are attached to the teeth and remain in place until the treatment is complete. Using a treatment method that is not removable, means that the patient does not have to be concerned with forgetting to wear their appliance. For patients with clear or metal braces, appointments are scheduled with the orthodontist every six weeks for adjustments.
Elastics are small rubber bands that the patient attaches to small hooks on the braces. They provide pressure to move the teeth to the desired positions.
Headgear is an appliance that attaches to the braces and connects to an elastic strap that goes around the back of the neck or head. It provides pressure that can guide the growth of your jaw and face by helping to align the teeth.
This is an appliance that can make the upper jaw wider. It helps to correct the bite between the upper and lower teeth in the back.
Sometimes, baby teeth are lost too early, before the permanent teeth are ready to erupt. In that case, a space maintainer is placed. This holds the space open so that when the adult teeth are ready to erupt, they have room and are not impacted or “stuck”. Maintaining the space can help avoid the need for extractions of adult teeth during orthodontic treatment later.
After active treatment with braces is completed, all patients are given custom retainers. They are worn to maintain the correction that was accomplished with the braces. Retainers are a very important part of orthodontic treatment. They are worn full time at first, followed by night-time wear for an indefinite period of time. Retainers are an easy and long term investment in your smile.