Spacers (separators) are little plastic rings that fit between your back teeth and are inserted before placement of your braces to provide some space between your back teeth.
Spacers usually stay between your teeth for several days, and they are taken out before your braces are put on. They often cause some soreness, but this goes away in a few days.
If a spacer comes out a day or two after its placement, call our office for a replacement. If a spacer comes out a day or two before your regularly scheduled orthodontic visit, it is not necessary to call our office for a replacement. In this situation, a loose spacer means that enough space was created between your back teeth.
Please avoid sticky or chewy foods. Also do not floss those teeth that have spacers between them.
Headgear is a type of orthodontic appliance attached to either braces or a palatal expander that aids in correcting severe bite problems. The most common treatment headgear is used for correcting overbite problems (overjet). The headgear attaches to the braces via metal hooks or a facebow. Straps or a head-cap anchor the headgear to the back of the head or neck. In some situations both are used. Elastic bands apply pressure to the bow or hooks. Its purpose is to slow-down or stop the upper jaw from growing, hence preventing or correcting an overjet.
The Palatal Expander is an orthopedic appliance designed to widen your upper jaw by gently separating the bones of the palate. It works best in teenagers younger than 15 years old, because below this age, the bones of the upper jaw are still pliable. The palatal expander consists of a screw that is attached to the teeth by means of bands that go around your teeth. The expander is activated by turning the screw with a key. As the upper jaw is widened, a space may develop between the front teeth. This space will generally close by itself within a month. Once expansion is completed, the expander will remain in the mouth for approximately three months to stabilize before being removed.
It takes a few days to get used to the expander. Initially there will be some lisping but within a week your speech will be back to normal. Until you get used to eating with your expansion appliance, eat plenty of soft foods. Pain is rarely experienced, but you may feel the initial pressure on your teeth, in the middle of your palate, and your cheeks. Sometimes patients may experience a slight headache. You can take over the counter pain medication to alleviate the discomfort. As with any orthodontic appliance, remember to stay away from hard sticky foods that can break and pull apart your appliance. Be sure to brush all parts of your expansion appliance as well as your teeth.
A lip bumper is a wire that extends from one lower molar to the other, resting between the teeth and cheeks. Unless you show it to your friends, nobody should be able to tell you are wearing it.
Many orthodontists choose to extract teeth to alleviate overcrowding. Dr. Haltom, however, would rather preserve all of your permanent teeth, if possible, giving you a bigger and more beautiful smile in the end. The lip bumper can eliminate the need to pull teeth.
The Hawley Retainer is one of the most common retainers used after removal of braces. Retainers are necessary to hold the teeth into their new position, allowing for settling of the supporting tissues. Hawley retainers are made of acrylic and wire and are fabricated specifically for each patient by taking an impression.
When you first get the retainers, you will be instructed to wear them full time except when you eat and brush. As your teeth stabilize in the bone, you will be instructed to reduce the number of hours you wear your retainers. We instruct and encourage all of our patients to continue to wear their retainers indefinitely. Even wearing your retainers up to two nights a week for the rest of your life will reinforce the stabilization of your straight teeth.
Lower Lingual Holding Arch
The Lower Lingual Holding Arch is a wire that connects your molars. This appliance is glued to your molars and is not removable. The purpose of the lower lingual holding arch is to hold back your upper or lower first permanent molars and prevent them from moving forward.
Nance Holding Arch
The Nance Holding Arch (“Nance button”) consists of two bands around the back teeth and an acrylic button that covers part of your anterior palate. The Nance button can be used as a space maintainer, in cases in which the baby teeth have been lost prematurely, and the first molars need to be prevented from coming forward. The Nance holding arch is also used for additional support to help drive back the anterior teeth, after the back teeth have been actively driven back with the Spring Jet appliance.
This appliance causes little discomfort and has little effect on the speech. Please stay away from hard sticky food that can break and pull apart your appliance. As with any orthodontic appliances, you should brush all parts of your appliance as well as your teeth.
Herbst is a fixed functional appliance used in young patients whose lower teeth and jaw are too far back. The Herbst works by incrementally advancing your lower jaw to promote natural growth.
Initially your upper and lower teeth may not touch when you close your mouth and you may experience some tenderness. It may take a few weeks to become adjusted to it, and in the beginning we suggest a soft food diet. If you experience irritation on your cheeks or lips, wax can be applied to the area for temporary relief.
Brushing may seem more difficult at first but you need to make a special effort to keep your teeth clean. You must brush after every meal and floss at least once a day.
Depending on the amount of bite correction needed, the Herbst appliance is normally worn for 8-12 months.
A bonded retainer is a wire that has been glued or bonded to the back surface of the teeth and is often used behind the lower front teeth once the braces have been removed. It is a small custom bent stainless steel wire that is inconspicuous, easy to maintain and clean.
This retainer effectively maintains the alignment of the lower incisors while simultaneously allowing for the controlled minute movement of the lower teeth which the orthodontist calls ‘settling’. Ideally this retainer should stay in place for several years or until after the facial growth and/or eruption of the wisdom teeth has been completed.
Occasionally a bonded retainer may be placed behind the upper front teeth and they are used in a similar manner.
The Essix Retainer (sometimes called an invisible retainer) is made of clear durable plastic which snaps into place over your teeth. We usually use the Essix Retainer to retain the alignment of the upper teeth. Once placed, your teeth and gums show through the plastic making the retainers appear nearly “invisible”.
The Essix Retainer is initially worn full time and then eventually only when sleeping. We will give you instructions specific to your needs when you receive the retainer including when it should be worn and how to care for and clean it.