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Orthodontic Appliances Besides Braces

Dr. Tun Offers Tools to Support Orthodontic Therapy and Oral Health

When you think of orthodontics, you probably have ideas of braces and maybe Invisalign. However, orthodontic treatment may involve one or more additional appliances called adjunct therapy. In some cases, patients who don’t ever wear braces need an orthodontic appliance to prevent potential issues, as can be the case with space maintainers, bumpers, and tongue cribs.


Clear, removable orthodontic aligners such as Invisalign are an alternative to traditional braces. Aligners cannot effectively treat all orthodontic cases, but for many children, teens, and adults with mild to moderate dental misalignment, clear aligners work well. Usually, orthodontic treatment with aligners takes less in-office visits and is more comfortable.

Palatal Expanders

Attached to a few teeth on either side of the upper jaw, a palatal expander pushes outward horizontally to increase the size of the upper palate. This is important to increase the size of narrow upper jaws, to make enough room for permanent teeth to come in properly. Children may wear a palatal expander as early as seven years of age, though teens and adults can benefit from the appliances in certain cases.

Some palatal expanders are removable, while others are fixed. In the fixed version, a small screw in the center of the appliance is turned a bit every day using a special key. The tension created by the continually increased pressure prompts the two palatial bones to move apart, and new bone grows in the space.

Invisalign First is for kids as young as six years old and can foster increased width of the upper palate. Kids who wear Invisalign First may not require a palatal expander. Others may need a palatal expander prior to wearing Invisalign First aligners.


An orthodontic retainer keeps teeth in alignment after a patient completes treatment with braces or clear aligners. Retainers may be fixed (permanently cemented in place) or removable. Patients are instructed to wear their custom retainer all day, every day, and all night for four to 12 months, then at night for the rest of their life.

Space Maintainers

Space maintainers keep part of the jaw open for an adult tooth to eventually erupt (in children) or in preparation for a dental implant. Though space maintainers are fixed, Dr. Tun will remove the appliance once the permanent tooth has grown in or just before implant placement surgery in case of missing teeth. Without a space maintainer, surrounding teeth will naturally drift into the space.

Tongue Crib

To eliminate the urge for a child to suck his thumb or thrust his tongue, a tongue crib makes these habits uncomfortable. Tongue cribs are most often recommended for elementary school-aged children whose bite develops malocclusion due to the habit. Tongue cribs are a last resort, but they’re also extremely successful.

Learn More About Orthodontic Appliances

Do you think an orthodontic appliance would benefit your or your child’s oral health? Schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with Dr. Wint W. Tun by calling 832-699-3683. We are accepting new patients and look forward to improving your smile!