Orthodontic Appliances


Braces are the most efficient and accurate way of moving teeth. They are fixed to the teeth for the duration of active orthodontic treatment. Braces consist of the following components:

  • Brackets are "handles" which are bonded to the outside surface of teeth. Silver brackets are the most common type, but clear brackets are also available. Self-ligating brackets have a mechanism which locks the bracket to the archwire without the need for modules or tie-wires.
  • Archwires deliver the force to move teeth.
  • Ligatures are tiny rubber rings or fine twisted wires used to tie the archwire to each bracket (not self ligating brackets). The rubber rings are usually grey, but coloured ligatures have become popular.
  • Bands are flat metal rings cemented around a tooth to provide a stonger means of attaching a bracket (or any other type of fitting). If required, these are only placed on the back teeth.


These are small elastic bands. They are used to exert a gentle, continuous force for aligning one arch to the other; they may also be used in assisting space closure. There are many types of elastics, all have an animal name ie. Fox, Ostrich, Ram, Parrot etc. Each individual type of elastic has a specific purpose, when you need more please advise the name of the specific type you are using. Elastics can be positioned differently to achieve various results – it is important to wear them as instructed otherwise the required movement will not occur.
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Head Gear

Headgear creates forces that guide the growth of the face and jaw. It also prevents teeth from moving in an undesired direction. It places pressure against the upper teeth and jaw to hold the teeth in position or help move them back into better positions.

It can also be used as an "orthopedic" appliance, helping control the jaw growth by holding the upper jaw and allowing the lower jaw to grow forward.

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The Herbst appliance is a fixed appliance for the period of time identified by the orthodontist.
A Herbst appliance is used to enhance forward growth of the lower jaw while applying pressure in a backward direction for the upper jaw.
Crowns are ‘glued’ to the molar teeth with a tube and rod, which work together similar to a shock absorber.

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Removable Appliances

Removable appliances are used to move teeth with wire springs. These springs do not move teeth as accurately as braces do, so the use of removable appliances is limited to simple tooth movements, usually in children who are yet to lose all of their deciduous teeth.
The wire springs are attached to a smooth, pink, plastic supporting plate which is held securely in the mouth by wire clasps.
The removable appliance pictured on the right was used to push the two front teeth forwards.

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At the completion of active orthodontic treatment, the braces are removed and retaining appliances (retainers) are fitted to hold the teeth steady in their new position. These appliances may be removable plates or wires fitted behind the teeth.
Retainers play an important role in orthodontic treatment for, if they are not worn according to instructions, the teeth may move back towards their original position.
The retaining appliances are usually worn:

  • Full-time for the first three weeks.
  • Just at night after the first three weeks.
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RME - Rapid Maxillary Expander

RME’s are generally used expand a narrow upper arch. The RME is ‘glued’ around a back molar tooth on each side of the mouth, and removed after the expansion process has occurred and has stabilised. A key is used to turn the expander at the times directed by the orthodontist. Marking the times on a calendar and ‘ticking‘ once this has occurred allows you to record the appliance activation. It is normal for a space to suddenly appear between the front teeth, this is temporary.

Sequential Plastic Aligners

This system uses custom made sets of clear plastic aligners/correctors to move the teeth. The product used is thin and fits snugly over the teeth and are almost unnoticeable.
It is easy to talk with them in and most people cannot tell you are straightening your teeth.
They are worn 24 hours a day and removed for eating, drinking and brushing. Correctors are changed every 2 weeks to progress the movement of teeth.
The success of this system is dependant on patient compliance - should correctors not be worn full time treatment cannot progress as scheduled.

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