If you know much about braces, chances are that you've heard of other treatment methods that are sometimes used alongside them, like retainers. You might find yourself wondering what these other methods are used for and if they're strictly necessary when you're getting braces. If you're curious about it, here's a look at three of the most commonly used additional treatment methods with braces.
Dental spacers are rarely noticed by others but still play a big role in adequately spacing out your teeth during braces treatment. As the name implies, spacers are designed to push teeth slightly apart from one another, creating more space between them. This is a gentle process and is usually only performed when teeth are tightly cramped together. If overcrowding is your problem, you may need this treatment.
Dental spacers aren't very visible. They look a lot like small, stiff rubber bands that are placed between the teeth. As the teeth gradually move further apart from each other, the pressure decreases, and eventually, the band will either be removed or fall out on its own once there's adequate space.
Retainers are another method that's almost always used with braces, although you might not get one until you're completely finished with your braces treatment. Retainers are designed to gently move teeth, but they're mostly used for securing and locking in the position of the teeth once braces have completed their work.
These days, retainers tend to be made of transparent plastic to have as little impact on your appearance as possible. Some dentists will suggest you start with a retainer, but it depends upon your personal dental needs. In any case, you can likely expect to need to wear one at night while you're asleep once your braces have been removed.
Headgear is one of those dental appliances that makes people feel nervous looking at it, but it's really not bad. A small bit of metal will stick out the front of the mouth while a strap goes around the back of the neck to hold it in place. Like retainers, most of the time headgear is only needed to be worn at night.
Dental headgear is designed to stop the forward motion of the jaw in growing mouths, so it's usually used with children, not adults. In some cases, it may be added on with braces treatment in order to help move the jaw backward if it's sticking out too far. Small brackets will be put in place over your rear molars, and then the headgear slides into those brackets, gently pulling back on either the upper or lower jaw. Headgear is temporary and rarely used for adults, so you may not need this one at all.