The ultimate guide to the 5 most common orthodontic appliances and their uses

Orthodontic issues occur due to the misalignment of jaws or teeth. Dentists use a combination of different orthodontic appliances to rectify these dental irregularities. Orthodontic appliances stimulate optimal growth and movement of the teeth, maintain enough room in the mouth for the growth of permanent teeth, and reinforce the growth and development of the jaw bones.

The use of orthodontic appliances is most effective for children. This is because children’s jaws are still growing, and orthodontic appliances can modify the growth in the right direction. However, teens and adults can benefit from them as well.

Let us explore the most common types of orthodontic appliances, their uses, and their benefits.


  • Invisalign is a popular treatment for correcting protruding teeth and aligning the bite. Invisalign comprises a set of very thin and transparent aligners that are placed over the teeth. They are comfortable to wear and are barely noticeable. The aligners exert pressure over the teeth and gradually shift them to the desired alignment.

With 3-D computer imaging technology, Invisalign treatment can be customized accurately to fit your teeth in the best manner. 3-D imaging can also predict the duration of the treatment and the results you will achieve with Invisalign.

Herbst® Appliance

  • The Herbst appliance is made of stainless steel bands used to correct overbites. The bands are wrapped around the molars and help line up the upper and lower jaws. Herbst appliances stimulate the development of jaw bones and promote healthy jaw alignment by exerting pressure on the jaw bones. The pressure repositions the jaws creating an alignment between both jaws. As a result, the lower jaw moves forward, and the upper jaw is pushed back.

Herbst appliances are usually accompanied by braces for proper alignment of the teeth. It is especially effective for treating overbites in younger children.

Palatal Expander

  • As the name depicts, the palatal expander exerts pressure to widen a narrow upper jaw that cannot accommodate all teeth healthily. This oral device fits in the roof of the upper mouth and exerts pressure on both halves of your jawbone. As a result, the upper portion of the jawbone shifts gradually.

Palatal expanders prevent crowding and impaction by stimulating the proper development of the jaw bone and creating enough space in the upper jaw. It is most commonly used in children, but teens and adults can benefit from it too.

Temporary Anchorage Devices (TADs)

  • TADs are small screw-like dental implants that are placed into the jaw. TADs are made of titanium alloy and are used to create an anchor that aids in the movement of teeth. They act as an anchorage for a small wire that is connected to the teeth. Individual teeth can be anchored to TADs; therefore, they are used for cases where some teeth require shifting and some don’t. As the name depicts, TADs are used as temporary devices and are usually taken out after a few months of treatment.

Teeth Separators for Braces

  • common orthodontic appliancesBraces are the most common orthodontic appliance used for straightening teeth. The orthodontist takes specific steps to prepare your teeth for the placement of braces. One step is to create space for accommodating metal bands using teeth separators or spacers. Spacers are small rubber bands that are placed around the back molars. These spacers act as anchors for the bands of the braces that are connected to the metal wires and brackets.

Spacers are temporary devices and are usually taken out before active treatment starts.

Now that we have understood the use of common orthodontic devices, it is time to schedule your appointment with the best orthodontist in town. Contact Icon Dental Orthodontics today to schedule an appointment with the best orthodontists in Seattle or Everett.

Our expert dentists are dedicated to providing the best orthodontic treatment, from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and beyond. Trust us to help you achieve a healthier, more beautiful smile. For consultations or bookings, call us at 206-225-2882 for Seattle and 425-337-2400 for Everett appointments.

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