What Are the Different Types of Orthodontic Appliances?

Orthodontics is like mechanics but for your teeth. Hence all that metal and hard work. Maybe people wouldn’t be afraid of visiting the orthodontist’s office if they knew a little more about how orthodontic appliances work.

Perhaps they seem archaic, braces probably the most. The physics behind them has stayed the same since braces were invented in 1819, but a lot has changed since then and is still changing today.

Why do you need to wear metal pieces in your mouth to correct crooked teeth? Conventional braces are the best dental treatment for this type of problem. Orthodontics has not found another treatment plan that compares to its effectiveness.

Traditional braces (metal, lingual or ceramic) work with pressure. When used correctly, this pressure can move misplaced teeth. With the help of archwires, molar bands, brackets, and rubber bands, orthodontists secure the process and make your teeth work for each other.

A crowded smile is not only a matter of appearance. When teeth are not properly aligned, the whole mandible suffers, and even hygiene issues develop from this. Always remember our dentures have a function to perform other than looking good.

Types of Orthodontic Appliances

We can categorize orthodontic appliances into two big groups. They have similarities and differences, although in some cases, they can correct the same dental problems.

Clear Aligners

Invisible aligners are changing the game for orthodontic patients. Plastic aligners wipe off a majority of the problems metal brackets have.

First of all, with clear aligners, there is no need to attach or cement anything to people’s teeth. They are easy to wear and easily removed, all done at home by the patient.

They are discreet. For years, wearing braces was something people felt insecure about (especially teenagers). Food can easily get stuck in between your brackets, and metal wires can poke your lips.

So clear aligners are a huge improvement in those areas. The changes they bring to the table do not affect their performance since they can successfully correct mild misalignment and spacing problems.

If invisible aligners are so great, why are we still using metal braces in Vista, then? You probably think the answer is the price/cost of acrylic retainers, but that is not entirely true.

Orthodontic Braces

Orthodontic treatment with metal braces is often cheaper than with Invisalign. We use the word ‘often’ because prices can change according to the treatment length and complexity. It’s possible to have a cheaper treatment plan with Invisalign than with brackets.

But as we said, price is not the decisive score on why to have treatment with braces instead of clear aligners.

Traditional braces are the best and only choice in cases where a major misalignment problem exists. Invisalign cannot fix severe issues of crowded or crooked teeth. Braces are best suited for problems with mandibles, overbites, and underbites.

The patient and orthodontist decide whether patients should use one or another. If you have more complicated teeth issues and would like a discreet appliance, you can always ask about ceramic braces or lingual braces.

What Are the Different Functional Appliances in Orthodontics?

Functional appliances are one of those orthodontic devices you have probably seen since they are very common, but you don’t know what they do because they look so complicated.

There are different types, and each is designed to fix a particular problem.

The Herbst Appliance

One of the most popular is the Herbst, an appliance used especially in pediatric orthodontics to fix overbites and underbites.

Palatal Expander

When the upper jaw is closed, orthodontists use a functional appliance called a palate expander, whose purpose is precisely to help widen the palate. It is very important to have a correct expansion so you can perform correctly when eating or speaking.

Rubber Separators

Compared to the two prior, separators are pretty simple. Also called spacers, these are thick circular rubber bands designed to be placed in between two teeth and create space to insert a different appliance then.

What Are Orthodontic Braces and Clear Alignment Systems?

Other types of orthodontic braces are just as good as conventional ones. These are clear ceramic braces and lingual brackets.

Metal Braces and Clear Ceramic Braces

We have talked about the mechanics behind the functioning of orthodontic braces, and we have explained in which cases they are needed. But we have yet to comment on the differences between the treatments with each type.

As we said, clear ceramic braces are a perfect alternative for those patients with complicated dentures who don’t want to lose the whiteness of their smiles due to metallic brackets.

In this scenario, ceramic braces would act as a middle ground. They offer the strength you lose with aligners and the delicacy you gain with them. In everything but materials, ceramic braces are the same as traditional braces.


The Invisalign system works following the same principles braces do. Clear aligners exert pressure on teeth to move them.

Just as patients with braces visit the dental practice fortnightly, patients with Invisalign get new molds for their dentures biweekly. Each mold is designed to adjust the bite into its desired position, correcting spacing problems, mildly crowded teeth, et cetera.

Although some people are used to calling acrylic aligners Invisalign, Invisalign is a famous brand of retainers.

When Is Early Orthodontic Treatment Necessary?

Teaching your kids to care for their oral health is one of the best things you can do for them from an early stage. The proper way to do it is by regularly taking them to orthodontic therapy.

Some problems that are easily fixed on young dentures take years to correct on permanent teeth, such as overbite and crooked teeth.

This type of prevention can save your children years and discomfort from misaligned teeth and orthodontic appliances.

Orthodontics for Kids and Teenagers

Your sons and daughters need experts who know how to treat the younger ones without frightening them. Make sure their doctors are specialized to help you define which type of treatment they need or if they need treatment at all!

If you are looking for an orthodontist office in Vista, California, don’t hesitate to set an appointment with us.