Types of Appliances

header photo


Separators or Spacers

Separators, or spacers, are small elastics that fit snugly between certain teeth to move them slightly so bands can be placed around them later. Spacers 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 spacer hasn't created enough room and needs to be replaced prior to your banding appointment.



Elastics are rubber bands used to connect your upper and lower braces in order to affect tooth movement in directions that braces alone can't. They're a very important part of your orthodontic appliance, and therefore, you need to follow our wear instructions carefully.

For elastics to do the job we want them to do, you must wear them as near to 24 hours a day as you can, every day. You can't just wear them at night. This is essential! Forgetting to wear your elastics for just one day may undo all the positive movement you've accomplished in the last two days. However, if you forget them for a day, don't double up the next day. Always simply follow our instructions for wear.

Always make sure you're wearing good, strong elastics and that you change them as instructed. If you wear them too long, they'll wear out and lose their elasticity, which means they won't provide the proper tension on your teeth and jaws.

You may take your elastics off to eat and brush your teeth. We suggest you put them on your finger when you do this, so you'll remember to replace them right away. Even better, if you eat with your elastics on, your treatment may be finished sooner.

Your teeth may be sore for a few days when you first begin wearing elastics. An over-the-counter pain reliever, such as Tylenol, will help until the sensation disappears.

If your elastics break frequently or a wire or band becomes loose, call us for instructions. Don't wait until your next appointment. Not correcting a problem with elastics or appliances could lead to a delay in your treatment.

Before you leave our office, make sure you understand how to wear your elastics, and be sure you take a supply with you. Keep spares in your car, pocket, backpack or purse so you won't run out.

Forsus Springs


The Forsus appliance is used in order to help move the upper molars back while moving the lower arch forward. Composed of a spring coil rod, the appliance is used while a patient is currently wearing braces. It runs from the upper first molar band down to the lower archwire.

You may notice some discomfort initially, so we recommend a soft food diet for the first few days after the appliance is placed. Regular anti-inflammatory medication may help with any pain, if needed. It is important to keep the appliance clean; you may do this by carefully brushing the coil and other metal pieces of the appliance. Also, we recommend that patients not open their mouths very wide, as the appliance may come apart.

If your Forsus appliance breaks, please contact our office immediately to schedule a repair appointment.

Expansion Appliances/Palatal Expander

Palatal Expander

An expansion appliance is normally fitted in order to expand your child's upper jaw in order to make more room for her/his teeth. An expander is different from braces in the effect it is meant to achieve. Braces move the teeth, but an expander gently separates and widens the two parts of the upper jaw. Once this is accomplished, new bone will fill the space and maintain the increased width. This may be necessary to achieve a better bite and/or to ease breathing difficulties.

Dr. Mihalik will talk to you about the need for this device and give you instructions on how to adjust it or help your child adjust it. Once the device has been put in place, you will have to check it every day and turn the screw as instructed. The best way to accomplish this is:

  • Have the patient lie on a bed or couch and open his/her mouth wide.
  • Carefully insert the key into the hole in the middle of the appliance.
  • Gently, steadily push the key from the front toward the back of your child's mouth. Don't back it up. When you can see the next screw hole, you've turned it enough.

For most patients, this isn't painful. The pressure may cause a tingling sensation or tooth sensitivity, but this should only last about 5 minutes.

For treatment to be completed properly and on time, it's your responsibility to:

  • Turn or confirm turning of the screw as Dr. Mihalik has instructed. Keep a regular schedule for turning; don't rush or delay.
  • Closely follow our instructions and schedule.
  • Ensure that the expander is thoroughly cleaned during brushing and flossing. This may be easier if your child uses an oral irrigation device, such as a Water Pik.

Herbst® Appliance

Herbst Appliance

The Herbst® appliance reduces overbite by encouraging the lower jaw forward and the upper molars backward. This fixed appliance is used mostly for younger, growing children and is worn for about 12-15 months.




Positioners complete the final tooth movements in your orthodontic treatment. With your full cooperation, you should only need to wear the positioner appliance for four to eight weeks.


Removable Appliances


Removable appliances, such as retainers, are designed to move your teeth or to maintain the movement that has already been accomplished.

It's important that you:

  • Follow our instructions for wearing your appliance. Wear it as you've been instructed at all times, even while sleeping. In most cases, you'll be able to remove it to eat, swim or play sports.
  • If your appliance is affecting your speech, give it 2 or 3 days. Your speech will return to normal.
  • Always bring your appliance with you to appointments.
  • Don't play with your appliance with your tongue, fingers or otherwise. You might damage or break it.
  • Your teeth may be sensitive or sore for a few days after an adjustment. If your gums develop a sore spot, call our office so we can adjust the appliance.
  • Clean your appliance by brushing it daily with toothpaste. You may also use a dental cleaner such as Efferdent for a more thorough cleaning. If your appliance isn't removable, be sure to clean it and around it every day.
  • Floss every day.
  • Always put your removable appliance in its carrying case when you're not wearing it. Never wrap it in a napkin or tissue where it might be forgotten and thrown away.
  • Keep your appliance away from pets.
  • Never store your appliance near a heat source or in the sun.
  • Don't use bleach on your appliance. If you need extra cleaning, we'll be happy to disinfect it for you.
  • Remember: The time required to replace or repair a lost or broken appliance may delay your treatment. There will be an additional charge for a replacement or repair.
American Association of Orthodontists American Board of Orthodontists - Board Certified Invisalign Invisalign Teen Invisalign Premier Provider Best Orthodontists in Corpus Christi itero digital impressions
Back to top