Types of Appliances
Elastics (Rubber Bands)

Elastics are designed to improve the fit of your upper and lower teeth (your bite). It is important to wear the elastics as directed by the orthodontist. Elastics work far more efficiently when they are worn as directed.


Patients who have an overbite or underbite may be required to wear headgear. An overbite occurs when the upper jaw is forward of the lower jaw. An underbite occurs when the lower jaw is forward of the upper jaw. Headgear works by gently “pulling” the teeth to restrict further forward growth of the upper teeth and jaw.

Herbst Appliance 

A Herbst appliance reduces overjet, or the protrusion of teeth. Patients with an overjet have lower teeth that are too far behind the upper front teeth. The Herbst appliance works by shifting the lower jaw forward. This fixed appliance is usually used with growing children and is usually worn for about 12 months.
To watch a video illustration of the Herbst appliance, click here.
MARA (Mandibular Anterior Repositioning Appliance)

MARA is used to encourage the forward growth of the lower jaw. The device is designed to correct the bite by aligning the lower jaw with the upper jaw. As a result, the facial profile as well as the correction of the bite will be immediately improved. While it may appear uncomfortable, don’t be discouraged. The MARA appliance is actually much easier to get used to than it appears. MARA is generally worn between 15-18 months. 

Palatal Expander

The palatal expander is designed to widen the upper jaw by putting gentle, constant pressure on the upper molars each time an adjustment is made. It is important to follow the instructions of the orthodontist about when and how to adjust the expander. After the desired expansion is reached, the appliance will be worn an additional six months to solidify the expansion and prevent relapse.

To watch a video illustration of a Palatal Expander, click here. 


Positioners are used to complete the final tooth movement in your orthodontic treatment. Patients who follow the instructions of their orthodontist need only wear the appliance for 4-8 weeks.

Retainers may be either removable or fixed. They are designed to hold the teeth in their new, corrected positions after the teeth have been straightened. It is important to follow your orthodontist’s instructions for how to care for your retainer and how long and when it should be worn. Patients who fail to follow these instructions may experience a movement of teeth back to their original position. 
Separators or Spacers

Separators are rubber doughnuts that are placed between the teeth prior to appliances being placed. They are designed to widen the spaces between the teeth so that orthodontic bands can be placed. Patients should not eat sticky foods or use floss or toothpicks while separators are in place. 

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