Orthodontic Appliances

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n dentistry, an “appliance” is simply a device that is worn in the mouth to accomplish a therapeutic purpose or outcome. Another term commonly used is “plates”.

Orthodontic appliances are used to make specific corrections to the arrangement of teeth and growth of jaws in young children. A plate may be prescribed as part of a course of early intervention orthodontics.

Fixed Vs Removable Plates

There are many types of orthodontic appliances, all with a different purpose, and all are customised to the child. They may be removable (so they can be taken out of the mouth during eating and cleaning). They can also be fixed to the teeth for the duration of the treatment.

Fixed Appliances

Fixed appliances tend to be used on younger children who may be tempted to take their appliance out of their mouth. Unfortunately, this can result in damage to or loss of the appliance, which can add to the overall costs of treatment and may delay its progress.

For this reason, it’s sometimes best to bond an appliance directly to the teeth so that it remains in place.

The greatest benefit of fixed appliances is that treatment is more likely to progress at a predictable rate.

Removable Appliances

Removable appliances may be more comfortable and make it easier to keep the teeth and gums clean, but compliance can be an issue for some children.

In either case, treatment of a young child with fixed or removable orthodontic appliances can only be successful with the full support and assistance of adults.

Common Orthodontic Appliances

There are dozens of different types of orthodontic appliances. The most common of these include:

Expansion Appliances

These appliances can

  • widen upper jaws if they’re too narrow or too set back
  • alleviate crowded teeth by creating space
  • remedy bite and jaw discrepancies
  • improve the space available to the airways.

Often these appliances are used in younger or growing patients when the skeleton is more able to change and move.

Space Maintainers

If one or more baby teeth are lost too soon, the remaining teeth can drift into the space, blocking the emergence of the underlying adult tooth. A space maintainer prevents this drift and ensures there is room available for when the adult tooth is ready to occupy it.

Habit Modification Appliances

It can be challenging for a child who has an oral habit, like thumb-sucking, to remember not to put the thumb in their mouth. Sometimes the fitting of a habit modification appliance provides a perfect reminder for the child, or occupies the space, preventing the thumb from entering.

Tooth-Repositioning Appliances:

Single misaligned teeth in an otherwise well-aligned arch can be gently pushed back into alignment by this type of appliance.

Orthopaedic Appliances

These appliances can improve the outcome for young, growing patients with jaw discrepancies. They are functional appliances that act to change or guide the facial growth pattern. Orthopaedic appliances can be either fixed or removable.