Types of Orthodontic Appliances


Wearing elastics (or rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth when you bite, and if you wear them well, they can help you get you finish treatment faster (get your braces off sooner)!


Retainers may be removable or fixed (glued/bonded to the back of your teeth). They hold your teeth in their new and correct positions after your teeth have been straightened. Dr. Altherr will instruct you on how to care for your retainer and about the duration of the wear. Wearing your retainer as directed is crucial to keeping your teeth straight and your smile perfect.


Depending on your specific problem with your bite, headgear is used to either stop any more forward growth and movement of your upper jaw and teeth or with other patients, it is used to move your upper jaw forward such as in an underbite.

Palatal expander

The palatal expander “expands” (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars with each turn of the provided key. Dr. Altherr will instruct you how much and how often to turn your expander.

Herbst® appliance

The Herbst® appliance improves your bite and overall facial profile by accelerating the remaining growth of your lower jaw and also preventing any more forward growth of your upper jaw and teeth. This is only used for our patients who are still actively growing and worn for about 9 months.

Separators or spacers

Separators are little rubber doughnuts that are be placed between your back teeth to gently push them apart so that metal bands may be placed on those teeth at your next appointment. The separators will be removed before we place the bands. Please be careful since separators do not do well with sticky foods, toothpicks, or when you floss around the teeth that they are near.

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