Headgear is often used to correct an excessive overbite. This is done by placing pressure against the upper teeth and jaw, which would hold the teeth in position or help move them into better positions. The severity of the problem determines the length of time headgear needs to be worn. The key to success with your headgear appliance is consistency. Headgear must be worn a certain number of hours per day, and if not, it must be made up the following day.

Headgear should never be worn while playing sports and should also be removed while eating or brushing your teeth.

Protraction Facemask

Often referred to as reverse-pull headgear, the protraction face mask is a removable appliance for patients where the upper jaw is not growing fast enough, resulting in a crossbite or underbite. The device consists of a metal bar attached to pads on the forehead and chin with rubber bands hooked to the face mask and the upper braces to gradually move the upper jaw forward. Patient compliance is extremely important as the face mask must be worn a set number of hours per day or more to obtain the desired results. The face mask device is generally worn for 6-12 months.


The Mandibular Anterior Repositioning Appliance (MARA) is suitable for treating class II malocclusions, which are characterized by protrusion of the upper front teeth and/or retrusion of the lower jaw. This appliance is used to encourage forward growth of the lower jaw. Using the MARA, class II malocclusions are treated more effectively. The MARA is reliable and reduces treatment time.

Generally, the appliance is secured to the patient’s first molars via stainless steel crowns, which are easy to fit and retain more, compared to bands. The appliance features no removable parts, which means patient compliance is not an issue. Also, the orthodontist can more accurately predict the length of treatment. MARA is generally worn between 15 to 18 months. Your improvements will be noticed immediately!

Distal Jet

A "Distal Jet" is a fixed appliance that is used to move the upper molars back. If the patient is a candidate, it can be used instead of a headgear. It is effective approximately 85% of the time when the correction that is needed is 5mm or less and the twelve year molars have not erupted. Distal Jets can be used when adult and baby teeth are present (mixed dentition stage of development, age 8-11).

Palatal Expander

The palatal expander "expands" (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. Orthodontist will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and to prevent regression.

Schwartz (Expander)

The Schwartz Appliance is a removable expansion appliance primarily used on the lower arch in order to expand the arch and create needed additional space for the permanent teeth. Treatment time in the Schwartz Appliance is approximately 9 months, but will vary based on individual needs of the patient. If both the upper and lower arches require expansion, we may use the Schwartz along with a Rapid Palatal Expander in order to coordinate the expansion of both arches.


The Sagittal appliance is a removable appliance used to expand the upper jaw. Made of acrylic and metal, the appliance fits comfortably in the roof of your mouth. To activate the expansion of the jaw, a small screw built into the appliance will be turned over a period of time. It is important to follow your doctor's instructions as to how and when the screw should be turned.

Bite Plate

The Bite Plate is designed to correct a deep bite (when the upper front teeth come down too far over the lower front teeth). Initially, there may be an adjustment period and speech may be affected for a short period of time. When wearing your bite pate, it is normal if your back teeth do not meet all the way. It may take a few weeks to completely adjust to your new bite plate. For optimal results, the bite plate should be worn 24 hours a day and only removed for eating and brushing. As with any orthodontic appliance, you should brush all parts of your bite plate as well as your teeth. Depending on the amount of correction needed, the bite plate may be worn for 3 to 6 months. Make sure to bring it to every appointment.

Thumb/Finger Appliance

Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children usually cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to your dentist.

One solution to thumb sucking is an appliance called a "fixed palatal crib." This appliance is put on the child's upper teeth by an orthodontist. It's placed behind the upper teeth on the roof of the mouth. The crib consists of semicircular stainless steel wires that are fastened to molars using steel bands. The stainless steel wires fit behind the child's upper front teeth, and they are barely visible. The crib usually stops the habit of thumb sucking within the first day of use.

Tongue Crib

A tongue crib is used to help break bad habits such as tongue thrusting and thumb sucking by retraining the tongue. The crib is a metal appliance that is attached to your upper teeth by fixed bands. It has a block, or a gate, that prevents your tongue from moving forward.

Tongue thrusting can cause an overbite by pushing your front teeth forward. If you are a tongue thruster, the crib retrains your tongue to not touch the front teeth. Thumb sucking can cause an open bite. If your child sucks his/her thumb, the crib blocks the thumb from being inserted.

To have enough time for the tongue to be retrained and the bad habit terminated, the tongue crib is usually left in place for six months to a year.

Space Maintainer

Space maintainer keeps the vacated space open until the permanent tooth is ready to come in. Not every tooth that is lost too early requires a space maintainer. If one of the four upper front teeth is lost early, the space will stay open on its own until the permanent tooth comes in.

A space maintainer is made of stainless steel and/or plastic. Some space maintainers are removable, which fixed space maintainers are cemented into the patient's mouth.

There are two general types of space maintainers:
1. Removable Space Maintainers      2. Fixed Space Maintainers

Hawley Retainer

These retainers are removable and used in many situations. When braces are removed these retainers maintain treatment results, close space, or maintain expansion after the use of a palatal expander. The retainers are made with a colored acrylic and have a wire that crosses the front teeth. After braces are removed, the best way to ensure long-term stability of the teeth is indefinite retainer wear.

Essix Retainer

Essix retainers are clear retainers that are worn following the removal of the braces. They are popular because they are nearly invisible. They are custom made for each patient following the removal of the braces.

Separators or Spacers

Separators are small elastics that fit snugly between certain teeth to move them slightly so bands can be placed around them later. Separators can fall out on their own if enough space has already been created. To determine if it needs to be replaced, slip some dental floss between the teeth; if it gets stuck, that means the separator hasn't created enough room and needs to be replaced prior to your banding appointment.

Elastics (rubber bands)

Elastics or rubber bands are a vital part of treatment and are also contingent upon patient compliance. They add extra pressure to the braces to help move the teeth. Generally worn at all times (excluding eating and brushing your teeth), rubber bands should be changed at least once a day. They come in various sizes as they are each used for a specific purpose. Your Doctor will provide you with the appropriate size.

You should always carry extra rubber bands with you in the event one breaks. If you run out, please call us immediately and we will supply you with more.

It is important to wear them consistently or treatment setbacks may occur. If only one day is missed, it could cause your teeth to shift back to their original position!


Family Orthodontics, Inc.
16801 Newburgh Road,
Suite # 105
Livonia, MI 48154

Hours of Operation

Tuesday: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Thursday: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Friday: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Saturday: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Contact Us

Email: info@family-ortho.com
Phone: (248) 675 - 8010
Fax: (248) 671 – 5354