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The Big List of Braces Appliances

Welcome to Reese Orthodontics, your Charleston, SC premier Invisalign and Braces professional. We look forward to helping you obtain your best smile.

Braces and other orthodontic appliances can move your teeth and jaw into healthier positions. Many people think of conventional metal braces as the end-all treatment plan. However, orthodontists have many devices at their disposal to make the necessary corrections based on each patient’s needs.

Continue reading for our big list of braces appliances, including what they are used for and how they function. Use this list to get an idea of the options you have available for you or your child’s needs.

Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.

Elastic bands

While braces shift your teeth into a healthier position, elastic bands, which connect two offset brackets on the top and bottom jaw, encourage your jaw to move into a healthier alignment as well. If your doctor applies elastic bands to your braces, they intend for you to wear them regularly.

The ability to remove elastic bands combined with the discomfort they can cause can tempt many patients to wear them less than directed. Doing so can make your treatment last longer than originally scheduled and cost more than the initial estimate. It’s important to wear them as directed, as it is for all the appliances on this list.


Separators could be made of rubber or metal. They surround your back molars and create enough space for the bands of other appliances. They are worn for 1-2 weeks before the start of your main treatment. They are also commonly referred to as spacers.

Braces springs

Braces springs (also known as Forsus springs) affect your bite in a similar way as elastic bands. They are usually used in case of a patient’s lack of cooperation when it comes to wearing the bands, even though the springs are more obstructive and can make brushing more difficult.

When worn with both upper and lower braces, braces springs can help move the upper teeth back and lower teeth forward to correct a misaligned bite.

Transpalatal bar

A transpalatal bar (also called a lingual arch) is used to maintain space in the patient’s arches. The metal bar loops around the back teeth and connects across the palette on the top and bottom of the patient’s mouth. This appliance is used in young patients whose adult teeth have not all come in yet so that the orthodontist can maintain proper spacing until they do.

Palate expander

A palate expander is used when a patient suffers from crossbites or crowding on the top two teeth. The expander is anchored to 2-4 teeth, connected by a screw that the orthodontist can tighten or loosen depending on the patient’s growth. When worn, this appliance can expand the width of the top dental arch, which gradually moves the teeth and bones into a wider position.

Since this device affects bones that are still growing, it is more effective when patients are younger. Surgery is a more common solution in patients who need palate expansion after the age of 16. 

Reverse-pull headgear

Reverse-pull headgear can treat an underbite, which is when the bottom jaw is in front of the top jaw, by pulling the top jaw forward. Headgear encourages a forward-growing position in the jaw, which means that it is more effective the younger the patient. Older patients with the same problem may require jaw surgery to fix the issue.

Reverse headgear must be worn 14 hours a day at least, meaning most patients need to wear it at night. It can be adjusted by your orthodontist as treatment progresses. 

MARA appliance

MARA stands for “Mandibular Anterior Repositioning Appliance.” Like many appliances on this list, it is a “fixed functional appliance,” meaning the patient cannot remove it for the duration of treatment. It is used to fix severe overbites.

The device pushes the bottom jaw forward to encourage its growth in that direction in patients who have yet to reach maturity. It cannot make the lower jaw bigger, but it can potentially move the bite closer together by impacting the direction of the growth of teeth, masking the issue.

Distal jet appliance

A distal jet appliance consists of an acrylic connector on the roof of the patient’s mouth, metal loops that hold the back molars, and a spring that connects them. The springs apply pressure that moves the molars further back in the mouth. They can be adjusted to affect the size of the patient’s jaw as they grow.

This appliance is used when young patients need more space in their upper row of teeth as their adult teeth begin coming in. A distal jet appliance can prevent crowding and reduce the need for braces later.

Turbo brackets

Turbo brackets are used in cases of severe overbite, meaning the front teeth are much farther forward than the bottom. These brackets prevent patients from biting all the way down, which allows back teeth to grow fully and reduce the overbite. These brackets are attached to the two upper front teeth. They cannot be removed for the duration of treatment.

Bite plate

Bite plates are made of acrylic and attached to the inside of the upper teeth with metal clasps. It is used to correct a bite where the top teeth overlap the bottom more than normal. Bite plates keep the back teeth from touching in much the same way as turbo brackets. Patients will have to learn to chew with their front teeth.

Twin block appliance

The twin block appliance is another way for orthodontists to reduce overbite. In patients who are still growing, this appliance can encourage the lower jaw to grow in a more forward position, so long as it is worn full-time. This allows not only the bones and ligaments but also the muscles to get used to a more forward position over the 6-9 months that this appliance is usually worn.

Bite splint

Unlock metal or acrylic appliances, bite splints are made of hard rubber, custom-made for each patient. They are used to correct crossbites, which is when the upper teeth rest inside of the lower ones. Bite splints prevent the teeth from coming together, which allows upper braces to do their job in patients with crossbites.

Class 2 Carriere appliance

Unlike many appliances on this list, which attempt to fix bite issues pre-emptively, the class 2 Carriere appliance or (Carriere distalizer) pushes back the top row of teeth to try and correct the patient’s bite after the permanent teeth have already come in incorrectly. The effect is similar to reverse headgear without the physical appliance on the outside.

Nance appliance

The Nance appliance or Nance button attaches to the upper back molars and is cemented to the front teeth. It is named after a round acrylic patch or button that rests on the palate behind the upper front teeth. This appliance prevents upper molars from rotating in relation to the front teeth. It is used when primary teeth have been extracted or during other orthodontic treatments to prevent unwanted tooth movement.

Herbst appliance

The Herbst appliance consists of two stainless-steel pistons attached to four back molars (two on top and two on bottom). The metal arms are configured to move the lower jaw forward in patients who are still growing but already have a severe overbite. The appliance not only moves the bottom jaw forward but also moves the top jaw back, moves both sets of teeth in that direction, and widens the top jaw.

Thumb appliance

Young children often suck their thumbs, an urge which typically stops at around ages 2-4, which is also when their adult teeth start to come in. When children continue to suck their thumbs beyond that age, it can cause their mouths to grow improperly and their teeth to become misaligned. A fixed palatal crib is commonly called a thumb appliance because of its purpose in preventing the wearer from sucking their thumb.

Tongue thrusting appliance

Similar to the thumb appliance, the tongue thrusting appliance prevents a bad habit in developing children. When speaking, swallowing, or even just resting, these patients sometimes push or thrust their tongue into their upper front teeth. Over time, this can cause alignment issues. By preventing thrusting, this appliance hopes to save patients the need for more complex appliances later.

Holding arches

Holding arches are anchored to back molars to maintain space when permanent teeth are coming in. When permanent teeth have fallen out prematurely or needed to be removed, holding arches can maintain space until the patient’s adult teeth have finished coming in, normally around age 13.

Upper retainers

Even though upper retainers are only made after braces come off, they are still important braces appliances. They maintain your teeth’s new alignment and must be worn as instructed, especially in the first year after treatment. Even after that, teeth naturally shift and crowd as you age without regular retainer use throughout your life. Upper retainers allow the changes made by other appliances to remain permanent.

Lower lingual retainers

While upper retainers are commonly made from hard acrylic and can be removed, many orthodontists recommend permanent lingual retainers for the bottom row. These consist of a metal wire fastened to the back of the patient’s teeth, which holds the teeth in their new positions for the remainder of the patient’s life.

Choose Reese Orthodontics

If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you. 

Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.

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