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Understanding the Different Types of Orthodontic Appliances

Your teeth are something everyone sees when you smile, so of course, you want them to look perfect. However, you might not have been blessed with perfectly straight teeth, which sometimes leads you to hide your smile. But don’t fret; orthodontic appliances can help you get the smile of your dreams.

At Duval Orthodontics, our team is ready to help you with any dental problem you have, including misaligned teeth. Dr. J.A. Duval is our skilled orthodontist and will help you determine what type of orthodontic appliance can get you a perfect smile. 

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on your bite and the proper alignment of your teeth. 

When you think of orthodontics, your mind probably goes right to braces. However, the specialty spans far beyond just that. The goal of orthodontics is to get your teeth alignment, limiting your risk of dental complications.

For example, straight teeth are much easier to brush and floss, limiting your chances of getting cavities and gum disease. It’s also harder for food to get stuck in straight teeth.

Proper bite alignment is essential for many reasons, and not just because a straight bite looks nice. For example, if your bite isn’t evenly distributed, the pressure could cause problems with your jaw, such as TMJ disorder or excessive wear on certain teeth.

Orthodontic appliances help gently fix your smile gradually.

Different types of orthodontic appliances

At Duval Orthodontics, Dr. Duval offers many types of orthodontic appliances to help straighten your smile and improve your bite. Some of the options that we offer include:


This device is used if your upper jaw needs to be wider, especially when your back molars are crowded. It’s also called a palatal expander and rests on the roof of your mouth. It’s secured to your back molars, and Dr. Duval adjusts the device every few months to gently put pressure on your molars. The continuous pressure slowly expands your molars and makes more room in your upper jaw.

Tongue crib

A tongue crib is an appliance that keeps your tongue from pushing into your front teeth, which leads to misalignment of your bite. It also helps children who suck their thumb and just can’t seem to kick the habit on their own. 

The device is similar to a retainer but has a type of cage that sits behind the front teeth. The cage doesn’t allow your tongue to push forward and prohibits the thumb from entering the mouth.


This orthodontic appliance is like a modern version of headgear. Unlike traditional headgear, this appliance is contained completely in your mouth and is fixed in place with bands around your molars. These help to pull your jaw gradually into better alignment. 


Retainers are typically used after you’ve had braces to straighten your teeth. There are several types of retainers; some are removable, and others are permanent. They keep your teeth from shifting back after your braces are removed. 

How your care for your orthodontic appliances

Caring for orthodontic appliances is similar to your regular dental care, including regular brushing at least twice a day. You’ll also want to brush after meals. If you are unable, rinse your mouth with water.

Flossing is also important for dental appliance care. Flossing gets food particles out from between your teeth and from getting stuck under or behind an orthodontic appliance. If food is left there, it can lead to plaque buildup and decay. 

If your appliance is removable, Dr. Duval reviews the care of the specific appliance. Routine orthodontic visits with Dr. Duval are essential as well.

If you need orthodontic care, call our office at one of our two convenient locations in Albany and Warner Robins, Georgia, to schedule a consultation. You can also book an appointment using our online scheduling tool.

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