How to Use Appliances

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Headgear | RPE | Retainers

  Headgear Expander RetainersRetainers

Headgear

Headgear is often used to correct an excessive overbite. This is done by placing pressure against the upper teeth and jaw, which holds the teeth in position or helps move them into better positions. If your treatment involves headgear, be aware that the severity of your overbite will determine how long you need to wear the headgear.

The key to success with your headgear appliance is consistency. Headgear must be worn a certain number of hours per day, and if you miss some time one day, that time must be made up the following day. Remember that you should never wear your headgear while playing sports. Also, remember to remove your headgear before eating or brushing your teeth.

Rapid Palatal Expander

The Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE) is a device that is bonded to the upper molars and is used to create a wider space in the upper jaw. It is typically used when the upper jaw is too narrow for the lower jaw or when the upper teeth are crowded or blocked out of the dental arch.

When people are still growing, the connective tissue between the left and right halves of their upper jaw is very responsive to expansion. By simply activating the expander by turning a screw in the center, gradual outward pressure is placed on the left and right halves of the upper jaw. This pressure causes an increased amount of bone to grow between the right and left halves of the jaw, ultimately resulting in an increased width.

Be aware that when you first have an RPE in your mouth, it will be difficult to say some words. Your speech will become easier and more understandable if you talk slowly, enunciate your words, and practice reading out loud. As when wearing other orthodontic appliances, avoid eating sticky, chewy, or hard foods while you are wearing an RPE.

Retainers

When we remove your braces, you will begin the retention stage of your treatment. Your final orthodontic result depends on your retainers, so be sure you carefully follow these directions about retainer use:

  • Until Dr. Hulme instructs you otherwise, please wear your retainer at all times, except when eating, brushing your teeth, or swimming.
  • When you take out your retainer, always put it in its case. If you wrap it in a napkin, it is likely to be accidentally thrown away!
  • Remove your retainer before you brush your teeth. Then brush your retainer before placing it back in your mouth.
  • If you have trouble speaking while wearing your retainer, just practice! Read aloud, talk on the phone, or sing along to the radio.
  • Be careful with your retainer, as it can break easily. Call us if you accidentally break it.
  • Make an appointment if you think your retainer needs to be adjusted. Never do it yourself.
  • Always bring your retainer to your follow-up appointments.
  • Do not put your retainer in hot or boiling water to clean it. It can melt! Also, keep your retainer away from hot car dashboards and out of the washing machine.

Replacing your retainer is expensive. If you follow the above guidelines, your retainer can last for years!