There are many different appliance systems and “extras” used during orthodontic care to help make orthodontic tooth movement more efficient. Most orthodontist have a system that they prefer but will always adjust the “extras” used depending upon the tooth movement required.
The most commonly referred to appliance used during orthodontic treatment are the brackets, bands, and wires. The brackets are the metal or ceramic square pieces bonded to each tooth. The bands are the metal rings used mostly on back teeth. The brackets and bands are placed on the teeth to create proper tooth alignment, rotation, and movement.
Orthodontics wires work with the brackets and bands to move the teeth. The wire is placed into the bracket slot to move the teeth into the proper position. Orthodontic wires most commonly consist of stainless steel, nickel titanium, or a titanium alloy.
Headgear is probably the appliance or “extra” that has the most unfavorable reputation. However, headgear is effective and has the advantage of being removed when the patient is eating or brushing their teeth. Headgear can help move upper teeth and the upper jaw forward or backwards depending upon the orthodontic problem. The headgear is worn for 10 hours of continuous wear at night while the patient is sleeping. Most patients need to wear for 12-16 months, varying with tooth movement and patient compliance. Headgear was first developed in the late 1800s and continues to be an effective way to treat certain orthodontic problems.
Elastics or rubber bands are a common “extra” used during orthodontic treatment. Elastics connect to upper and lower teeth and the direction the elastics are worn varies with the desired tooth movement. There are a variety of elastics sizes and strengths. Elastics are typically worn all day and all night except when the patient eats or brushes their teeth. Proper and consistent wear is necessary to ensure teeth movement. If consistent wear does not occur, the teeth will shift back to the original position and unfortunately little progress is made.
With any tooth movement, some discomfort can occur. There is always an adjustment period when tooth movement is initiated and “extras” are added. This adjustment period will only last a few days to one week when the patient will feel some soreness and achiness. However, with consistency the discomfort will fade away, the treatment can progress efficiently, and the new beautiful smile will be the lifelong reward!