Common Orthodontic Appliances

Here at Szymanowski Orthodontics, we design customized treatment plans for each of our patients, based on the specifics of their case, the desired outcome, and their lifestyle. After performing a thorough oral examination, Dr. Szymanowski will decide if the patient will require a special appliance in order to create the perfect smile. Not everyone will need a separate appliance, and every recommendation we make is based on a patient’s individual situation. However, when used alone or in conjunction with braces, these appliances can often speed up treatment times and improve overall results. Let us take a closer look at some of the appliances Dr. Szymanowski uses to produce the most beautiful smiles in Sacramento!

Rubber bands (elastics)

These tiny elastic bands are the primary mechanism we use to move the teeth so that they fit together correctly from top to bottom. They are attached using hooks that are part of the brackets or the bands with braces and can be worn in a variety of configurations. It might seem strange, but these humble rubber bands are actually one of the most important components of braces. Brackets give us a way to hold on to teeth, but it is the rubber bands and wires that move them into the desired positions.

The rubber band phase of treatment is generally the longest. It is important for patients to follow all of our instructions during treatment, and in most cases, this will include wearing rubber bands constantly. To make this part more fun and less stressful, we offer elastics in many fun colors that allow patients to show off their personality. Looking for something more subtle? We also have clear or tooth-colored bands to better blend in with the natural smile.


Separators are a little bit like tiny rubber doughnuts. These may be used in between the teeth to push them apart so that orthodontic bands can be placed at a subsequent appointment. Separators are attracted to sticky foods, toothpicks, and floss, and will pop out with these materials. Patients should avoid these while they have separators in. This tends to be a very temporary part of treatment, and any separators used will be removed before bands are placed.


Orthodontic headgear can be a very important part of the treatment for some patients. Headgear is used to not only create space for teeth and move them into better positions (or prevent them from moving,) it is also capable of creating a force to guide the growth of the face and jaws. To get the most out of headgear, it must be worn as directed. Failure to do so can result in longer treatment time and even changes to the overall treatment plan. Care should be taken, particularly when removing headgear. Reckless removal can lead to injury to the lips, cheeks, face, and eyes. For the safest treatment with headgear, patients should:

  • never remove the headgear until the straps have been disconnected
  • never lift the headgear over the face.
  • never wear the headgear when running or playing sports
  • bring the headgear to every appointment

Palatal Expander

Forsus appliance

A Forsus appliance works in conjunction with existing braces using continuous gentle force to effectively treat more serious Class II malocclusions. It can provide much-needed pressure and guidance while still allowing a full range of motion, and it can also reduce the need for external apparatus like headgear, or the extraction of permanent teeth.

Carrière Distalizer

The Carrière Distalizer is a newer system that gives us a method for correcting bite alignment before braces that do not rely on extraction. It is used at the beginning of treatment and is attached to the canine or molars, making it virtually unnoticeable for the most part. The overall effect is similar to headgear, without the external bulk. When used in combination with a lower fixed lingual arch space maintainer and elastics, it can help to correct an overbite without having to bring the lower teeth forward, and can also reduce the time spent in braces.

Palatal Expander

A palatal expander is often the first step to a straighter smile by easing crowding and making more room for the patient’s top and bottom teeth to fit together. It works to widen the upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on the upper molars each time an adjustment is made. Dr. Szymanowski gives each patient-specific instructions on when and how to adjust the expander. Once the desired expansion is achieved, the appliance is worn for several months to solidify the widening and prevent any regression. It is the first step to a straighter smile.


A TAD, or Temporary Anchorage Device, is a miniature titanium anchor that we position in the mouth as a way to achieve faster tooth movement with efficiency, comfort, and predictability.  screw that we position in the mouth. A TAD can eliminate the need for more cumbersome appliances like headgear, and allow us to treat certain cases better and faster than ever before.

The duration of the TAD implant treatment will be determined by Dr. Szymanowski, but in most cases will only be required for a short time, usually a period of a few months.

Colorful retainers


Once the active treatment period is complete, braces are removed or the last aligner used. The patient then enters what we refer to as the “retention period,” which is critical to maintaining the long-term stability of a newly straightened smile. Retainers are designed to hold a patient’s teeth in their new and improved positions until the bone, gums, and muscles can fully adapt.

Retainers must be worn as instructed, or the teeth may return to their original positions, leaving a patient right back where they started. There are three types of retainers: removable, fixed, and invisible (Essix) retainers. Dr. Szymanowski will determine what type of retainer is needed and how long each patient will need to wear the retainer. Permanent retention may be necessary in some cases.

Creating lasting smiles in Sacramento with Szymanowski Orthodontics

The human mouth is a very complex system and requires the best orthodontic care. Dr. Szymanowski and the entire Szymanowski Orthodontics team are dedicated to providing the kind of professionalism and expertise that result in beautiful, healthy smiles that last a lifetime. For more information about how orthodontic appliances and treatment can benefit your oral health, get in touch with us to schedule a complimentary consultation.