Types of Orthodontics Appliances

Orthodontics Appliances | St. Louis Orthodontist Office

For many people, the term orthodontics evokes immediate thoughts of mouths full of braces. However, in the world of orthodontics, there are a lot of other tools we use to elicit gorgeous, happy smiles and if dental braces are required as part of a treatment plan, they usually fall sometime in the middle of other treatment methods. In orthodontics, we often must prep mouths for braces before they can be applied. Most treatment plans also require the incorporation of post-braces appliances before treatment can be truly complete. Below, we have broken down some of the appliances in the orthodontics tool belt to give you a better idea of what your orthodontic treatment plan might entail.

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Elastics/Rubber Bands

Elastics are worn with braces, and are linked from the top jaw to the bottom jaw via hooks constructed with your braces. Elastics improve the fit of a patient’s upper and lower teeth, and wearing them as prescribed means treatment plans stay on course.


Headgear is used to treat patients with severe malocclusions (bad bites). Specifically, it is used for people with severe overbite or underbite. Orthodontic headgear works by gently pulling teeth to restrict further forward growth of the upper or lower jaw, depending on which needs to be restrained.

Herbst® Appliances

Herbst® appliances are used to correct overbites as well. They do so by guiding the lower jaw forward and the upper molars backward. This fixed appliance is generally used in orthodontics for younger, growing children, and can be expected to be worn between 12-15 months.

Palatial Expanders

Orthodontics Appliances | Orthodontist Office in St. Louis

Palatial expanders are orthodontics tools used to widen, or “expand” your upper jaw. They do so by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars with each adjustment. Do not worry, if a palatial expander is part of your treatment plan, we will give you instructions about how and when to adjust it! Often, when the desired expansion width is attained, you will continue wearing it for several months to solidify the expansion and prevent regression.


Like the name implies, retainers hold or “retain” your teeth in their desired, corrected position. Retainers are the light at the end of the orthodontic tunnel! They may either be fixed or removable, depending on what the orthodontist feels is most appropriate for your case. Your orthodontist will give you proper instructions on the care and duration of wear for your retainer. If your retainer is removable, remember that wearing it as directed is imperative to solidifying the new position of your teeth and to prevent regression of your treatment.


Separators are small rubber donuts that are used to create spaces between your teeth. This is often part of pre-braces preparation or treatment. If needed, separators are placed between the necessary teeth to create a space so that bands may be placed at the following appointment.

Have Questions About Orthodontics?

If you are interested in seeing how orthodontics may help you? Our orthodontists would love to sit down with you to see how we can help! Contact us at any of our 3 St. Louis area locations today for a free consultation.