A Look at Common Orthodontic Appliances

Orthodontics, a specialty field of dentistry, involves correcting teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly. To achieve this, orthodontists use a variety of appliances. Here, we’ll delve into some of the most common types of orthodontic appliances.

What Are The Most Common Types of Orthodontic Appliances?

1. Braces

Braces are the most well-known orthodontic appliances. They consist of brackets attached to each tooth and an archwire that connects the brackets. The archwire is tightened periodically, applying pressure to gradually move the teeth into the desired position. Braces can be metal or tooth-colored ceramic.

2. Invisalign (Clear Aligners)

Invisalign and similar clear aligner systems offer a less noticeable alternative to braces. These custom-made, clear, removable trays are worn over the teeth. Each set of aligners is worn for a couple of weeks before being replaced with a new set that further adjusts the teeth.

3. Retainers

After braces or aligners have done their job, retainers are used to keep teeth in their new positions. Retainers can be removable or fixed. Removable retainers typically are made of clear plastic or acrylic and metal wires. Fixed retainers are a thin wire worn across the back of the lower or upper front teeth, which is bonded in place.

4. Palatal Expander

A palatal expander is a device designed to widen the upper jaw (palate) in children, creating more space for the upper teeth to fit properly. It’s a custom-made appliance fitted to the roof of the mouth, applying gentle pressure to gradually widen the palate over time.

5. Headgear

Orthodontic headgear is often used to correct an overbite or underbite. It’s a custom-made appliance that attaches to braces, applying the necessary force to adjust the positioning of the teeth and guide the growth of the jaw.

6. Space Maintainers

When a child loses a baby tooth prematurely, a space maintainer is used to keep the space open until the permanent tooth comes in. They can be removable or fixed and are made of metal or plastic.

7. Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces, but the brackets and wires are placed on the inside of the teeth, making them less visible.

8. Bite Plate

Bite plates are used to correct a deep overbite. They are custom-made appliances, usually of acrylic, designed to control the vertical height and/or position of the bite.


Each of these appliances serves a unique purpose and is chosen based on individual needs and the specific orthodontic problem at hand. Your orthodontist will recommend the best treatment option for you or your child based on a thorough examination and analysis of orthodontic records.

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