Orthodontic Appliances

October 6, 2023

By Dr. Fass

There are a multitude of orthodontic appliances available today, allowing general dentists and orthodontists to treat a variety of conditions.  Many may be worn by adults and children alike with good results.

Typical removable appliances fall into two basic categories: Active appliances and retainers.  Active appliances have screws, plastic areas, springs or wires designed to move teeth to a different position.  Retainers are designed to hold the teeth in the current alignment.  A newer variation of these appliances is a clear thin plastic form that is vacuum molded on a model of the mouth.  Both types are usually worn all night.  Active appliances are generally worn all day as well, as are some retainers.

Today, most orthodontic treatment utilizes computer programs to create 3D images that can be manipulated on the machine before treatment.  3D printed models are created to mirror various stages of treatment and appliances are made that, when worn properly, will move teeth to the projected positions.

There is another class of devices called functional appliances.  These look like boxer’s mouthguards and use the force of the patient’s bite to re-position teeth.  They can be quite effective and very fast treatment modalities, especially in children who are growing and developing.

Remember that removable appliances can only work if they are worn regularly.  It often takes 2 days of wearing an appliance to make up for 1 day skipped.  Retainers need to be used for a long time to prevent teeth that have been moved orthodontically from moving back to their crowded positions.  Adults will tend to relapse more than children and need to be very fastidious about retainer wear.

This article was published on 10-06-2023 in The Altamont Enterprise.