When you think of braces, you probably think of the brackets and wires that will be adhered to your teeth to help guide them into the correct alignment. But braces are not the only tools used during orthodontic treatment. In fact, there are a number of accessories that are used with braces to correct specific orthodontic problems. Some of these accessories are more noticeable than others, but all are very important in helping you get a healthier, straighter smile. We will look at three common braces accessories used to make braces more effective, and the purpose they serve.
This is one of the most common braces accessories used to treat patients, and you may have seen them on other people who wear braces. Just like braces, they can be bright and colorful to help make them fun and trendy accessories or they can be clear and understated. Aside from giving you a colorful smile, rubber bands also help move your teeth so that the top and bottom fit together correctly. The brackets and wires are fitted with special hooks that are used to attach the rubber bands. These bands can be worn in a variety of configurations depending on the needs of your smile. Rubber bands are meant to be worn exactly as directed, generally, at all times and they should be removed for meals and teeth brushing. The more closely you follow the instructions for wearing rubber bands to correct your teeth alignment, the sooner you can be finished with them and move to the next phase of treatment.
Sometimes patients need these devices to help widen the roof of their mouth, which translate into a wide upper arch. This treatment accessory tends to be used in younger patients before they reach maturity, as it influences bone growth. There are a few different kinds of expanders, and they all attach by metal bands around the molars connected to metal bars which join to the main part of the appliance. The center of the expander is an expansion screw which is turned with a key to slowly expand the area according to our recommendation. We instruct you when to turn the key and the turning process expands over a period about two to three weeks. Once the expansion is complete, the expander stays in for roughly six months to keep the teeth in their new position, so they don’t collapse back to the starting position. By following our instructions exactly, you make the treatment as effective and fast as possible.
Some patients have a difference in growth between their lower and upper jaws which may require head gear. There are different types of headgear for severe underbites and overbites, and both types are meant to help correct the bite, so the top and bottom teeth become aligned properly. When the upper jaw is growing to much the headgear we use anchors to the back of the neck or the top of head to help encourage the proper growth and alignment. Tubes are fitted on the sides of the molar teeth, and this is where the inner part of the gear slides in. Headgear must be worn at least 14 hours a day to be effective. Children will not wear the head gear to school, but should wear it when the get home, after dinner, and throughout the night as they sleep. The more often it is worn, the shorter a period it will be needed. Often patients can be finished with it in the span of a year if they follow instructions properly.
We always explain in detail everything you need to know about your braces accessories, and we are happy to answer any questions you have. When you follow all of our instructions as closely as possible, treatment goes faster and more smoothly so you can have the smile you desire.