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Types of Orthodontic Appliances

Types of Orthodontic Appliances

In order to achieve a straight set of teeth, orthodontists utilize a number of devices and appliances, aside from braces. While not every patient will require each of these appliances, here's a few items you may expect to use during your orthodontic treatment. Be sure to discuss your treatment plan with your orthodontist to best understand which of these devices will apply to you.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)

Elastics - Rubber BandsWearing elastics (or rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. Wear rubber bands as instructed and remember that the rubber bands work far more efficiently if they're worn as prescribed.


Headgear is used to treat patients whose teeth are in an overbite, with the upper jaw forward of the lower jaw, or an "underbite" with the lower jaw forward of the upper jaw. Headgear gently "pulls" on your teeth to restrict further forward growth of your upper teeth and jaw.

Herbst® Appliance

Herbst® ApplianceThe Herbst® appliance reduces overbite by encouraging the lower jaw forward and the upper molars backward. This fixed appliance is used mostly for younger, growing children and is worn for about 12-15 months.

Palatal ExpanderPalatal Expander

The palatal expander "expands" (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. Your orthodontist will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and to prevent regression.


RetainersRetainers may be removable or fixed. They hold your teeth in their new, correct positions after your teeth have been straightened. Your orthodontist will instruct you on how to care for your retainer and about the duration of the wear. Wearing your retainer as directed is crucial to prevent regression of your treatment.

Separators or SpacersSeparators or Spacers

Separators are little rubber doughnuts that may be placed between your teeth to push them apart so that orthodontic bands may be placed during your next appointment. The separators will be removed before we place the bands. Separators do not mix well with sticky foods, toothpicks, or floss.

At Macdonald Orthodontics we utilize every available option to achieve the best possible results. The teams at our Gilbert orthodontics office and Mesa orthodontics office would be happy to chat with you about what treatments will give you the smile you've always wanted. Give us a call at the location nearest you to schedule an initial appointment at our Mesa or Gilbert orthodontics office so we can put you on a path to a beautiful smile.