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Orthodontic Appliances

Rapid Palatal Expander | Orthognathic Appliance | Nance Appliance | Thumb/Finger Appliance | Tongue Thrusting Appliance | Herbst Appliance


Attached to the upper molars through bonding or 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 for the lower jaw or when the upper teeth are crowded or blocked out of the dental arch. 

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When patients are still growing, their connective tissue between the left and right halves of their upper jaw is very responsive to expansion. By simply activating the expander through turning a screw in the center of the palatal expander, with a special key we provide, gradual outward pressure is placed on the left and right halves of the upper jaw. This pressure causes an increased amount of bone to grow between the right and left halves of the jaw, ultimately resulting in an increased width.

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Orthognathic Appliance

An orthognathic appliance, or growth appliance, is used to correct discrepancies in the growth patterns of the jaws and/or cleft palate. There are a number of different growth appliances available to correct these problems. Certain appliances are designed to gently encourage the upper palate to expand allowing for more room for the permanent teeth to grow in, while others are designed to correct overbites that occur due to growth problems. Orthognathic (growth) appliances are designed to create more room for incoming permanent teeth, promote a better bite and/or enhance the facial profile. They are sometimes used for less complex cases that do not require orthognathic surgery.

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Nance Appliance

The Nance Appliance is used to prevent upper molars from rotating or moving forward after you’ve worn a headgear, a Wilson’s arch or any other appliance to move your molars back. Some patients wear the Nance Appliance while they are awaiting their bicuspids to grow into place.

The appliance is made of two bands that are cemented onto the first molars and a wire spans the roof of the mouth from one molar to the other. An acrylic pad or “button” covers the wire that touches the roof of your mouth directly behind your front teeth.

Patients should always brush around the bands daily. Do not eat sticky, chewy candy as it can loosen your appliance.

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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 on 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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Tongue Thrusting Appliance

Tongue thrusting occurs when the patient presses his or her tongue against the front teeth, usually when swallowing, speaking or resting the tongue. If thrusting is constant, this can cause problems with teeth alignment and must be fixed.

We prefer to correct tongue thrusting by giving patients a tongue thrusting appliance. This appliance, similar to a mouth guard, is usually worn at night. Other times, a more permanent appliance is prescribed and can be only be adjusted by our office.


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Herbst Appliance

One of the most common problems orthodontists treat is the discrepancy that occurs when the upper teeth protrude beyond the lower. Ordinarily, when we see a patient with the upper teeth protruding, we tend to think that the upper jaw and teeth are too far forward; but, more often than not, this condition is due to a small lower jaw that is further back than it should be. With these patients, we would like to encourage the lower jaw to catch up in growth, and braces like the Herbst appliance help this happen.

Even though the Herbst appliance prevents the lower jaw from moving backward, opening and closing movement still occur easily, and patients do not have any problems learning to chew their food with their lower jaw in this new position.

As with all kinds of braces, patients with Herbst appliances need to be careful about what they eat. For instance, cold foods such as ice slushes, Popsicles and ice will freeze the cement and make the brace loosen. Sticky foods such as caramels, bubble gum and candy suckers will pull the brace away from the teeth. Hard foods like crisp vegetables and hard candies will bend and loosen the Herbst appliance, too. So stay away from these foods during your orthodontic treatment.

Your Herbst appliance will be checked and adjusted at your appointments. If, sometimes between appointments, you develop some sore areas on the inside of your cheeks, please do not try to adjust the appliance yourself. Call for an appointment so that the necessary adjustments can be made.

Wearing a Herbst Appliance

At first, your mouth will feel unusually full and speaking will be awkward. But if you practice reading aloud, your ordinary speech will return quickly. You may also notice more saliva than normal, but this will decrease as you become accustomed to the appliance.

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