When most people think about orthodontists, they instantly imagine braces. But braces and retainers aren’t the only tools an orthodontist uses. Dr. Scott McElroy of McElroy Orthodontics in San Ramon, CA, explains various orthodontic appliances and what they’re used to treat.
What is an Orthodontic Appliance?
Orthodontic devices can be used for a variety of things. Braces and clear aligners aren’t the only tools that can be used to help with crooked teeth and bite problems. Appliances help ensure the jaw is going to be healthy, functional, and ensure a stable bite in the future. Typically, orthodontic appliances are used as the first part of two-phase treatment in younger patients, or ensuring orthodontic relapse doesn’t happen.
Types of Orthodontic Appliances
There are various different appliances that are used for different problems in the mouth. First, a palate expander is used to widen the upper jaw. This helps to ensure that the upper jaw is aligned properly compared to the lower jaw. We want to make sure that there’s enough room for permanent teeth to develop an even, uncrowded smile.
A sagittal appliance is also used to adjust the upper jaw. However, it focuses on extending it lengthwise instead of primarily width. This works by pushing back your molars and allowing the jaw to lengthen. Different additions can be used with a sagittal appliance to ensure that it stays in place and works as it’s supposed to.
A functional appliance includes an array of different ones. They’re used for younger patients to harness the natural growth patterns to make sure the jaw is developing properly. Typically, these appliances focus on moving either the upper or lower jaw forward to ensure an even bite. Using these appliances can eliminate the need for further orthodontic treatment when the child is older.
When are Orthodontic Appliances Needed?
When children’s mouths are growing and developing, certain habits can compromise this. Primarily, thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing can impact the way the jaw forms and develops.
When children suck their thumbs, the pressure of the thumb on the front of the teeth can cause an open bite. The shape of the jaw changes and the teeth are moved apart. Tongue thrusting and pacifier use can also produce an open bite. You may not think that mouth breathing would cause any issues with your bite. But if your child is constantly doing it, it can cause the jaws to develop abnormally.
Even without any of these habits, the jaws can still develop in an abnormal way. Orthodontic appliances can help with severe crossbites, overcrowding, and underbites. We want to use conservative methods to try and avoid more extensive treatment in the future.
Getting Orthodontics in San Ramon, California
Can an orthodontic appliance help your or your child’s bite problems? Call us or schedule an appointment online.