Drs. Ellis and Lindgren use many orthodontic appliances in order to give you a healthy smile and a great bite! Appliances can be used on their own or in conjunction with braces to get the best possible result. Orthodontic appliances can be used for a variety of functions, including correction of jaw size discrepancies, creating room for newly erupting teeth, correcting bad habits such as thumb sucking, and modifying poor growth patterns. Below are a few of the more common appliances you may see in our office.

Rapid Palatal Expander

Attached to the upper molars and premolars by cemented bands, the Rapid Palatal Expander is an orthodontic device used to create a wider space in the upper jaw. It is typically used when the upper jaw is too narrow in relation to the lower jaw or when the upper teeth are crowded or blocked out of the dental arch.

When patients are still growing, their upper jaw is two separate bones that have not fused into one and therefore very responsive to expansion. By simply activating the expander screw with a key that we provide, a very gentle outward pressure is applied that allows the two bones to move outward, growing new bone, and ultimately resulting in an increased jaw width.

Distal Jet Appliance

Many times the canines (I-teeth) become blocked out of the dental arches due to the forward migration of the teeth behind them. In order to make room for the canines without protruding the front teeth forward in a “bucky” position, we can use a Distal Jet Appliance. This appliance is a non-removable appliance that is cemented to the first premolars and the first molars that allow the orthodontist to move the molars back, thus creating room in the middle of the arch.

Once this is done, the Distal Jet is removed and replaced with a smaller appliance called a Nance that holds the molars in their position while the premolars are shifted back. This shifting creates room for the canines to be properly aligned all the while keeping the front teeth in a good position.

Lower Lingual Arch

The Lower Lingual Arch acts as a space maintainer to keep the molars from drifting forward and to prevent them from blocking the space where permanent teeth will eventually erupt. The appliance is commonly used in cases of premature loss of a baby tooth or when the lower teeth of a growing child are overly crowded and the orthodontist would like to avoid the extraction of permanent teeth.

The Lower Lingual Arch is a very passive and easy appliance for kids. It is cemented into place, and the orthodontist monitors the eruption of surrounding teeth to determine if any adjustments to the wire are needed. The duration of wear varies, but generally the Lower Lingual Arch is removed following the eruption of all permanent teeth.

Thumb/Finger Appliance

Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children usually cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to your dentist.

One solution to thumb sucking is an appliance called a “fixed palatal crib.” This appliance is put on the child’s upper teeth by an orthodontist. It’s placed behind the upper teeth on the roof of the mouth. The crib consists of semicircular stainless steel wires that are fastened to molars using steel bands. The stainless steel wires fit behind the child’s upper front teeth, and they are barely visible. The crib usually stops the habit of thumb sucking within the first day of use.

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