Learn About Orthodontic Appliances

During your treatment plan at Clinebell & Anderson Orthodontics, Dr. Clinebell or Dr. Anderson may prescribe you an orthodontic appliance. Find out more about these helpful tools.

Types of Orthodontic Appliances

Rapid Palatal Expanders

Attached to the upper molars through bonding or by cemented bands, the rapid palatal expander (RPE) is an orthodontic device we use to create a wider space in the upper jaw. We typically use an RPE when the upper jaw is too narrow for the lower jaw or when the upper teeth are crowded or blocked out of the dental arch.

When young patients are still growing, the connective tissue between the left and right halves of their upper jaw is very responsive to expansion. By simply activating the expander by turning a screw in the center of the palatal expander with a special key we provide, gradual outward pressure is placed on the left and right halves of the upper jaw.

This pressure causes an increased amount of bone to grow between the right and left halves of the jaw, ultimately resulting in an increased width.

Tongue Thrusting Appliance

Tongue thrusting occurs when the patient presses his or her tongue against the front teeth, usually when swallowing, speaking, or resting the tongue. If thrusting is constant, this can cause problems with teeth alignment and must be fixed.

At Clinebell & Anderson Orthodontics, we prefer to correct tongue thrusting by giving patients a tongue thrusting appliance. This appliance, similar to a mouth guard, is usually worn at night.

Other times, Dr. Clinebell and Dr. Anderson prescribe a more permanent appliance which we can only adjust at our Decatur office.


The Herbst appliance prevents the lower jaw from moving backward but allows opening and closing movement to occur easily.

At first, your mouth will feel unusually full, and speaking will be awkward. But if you practice reading aloud, your ordinary speech will return quickly.

You may also notice more saliva than normal, but this will decrease as you become accustomed to the appliance. Our Clinebell & Anderson Orthodontics patients won’t have any problems learning to chew their food with their lower jaw in this new position.

As with all kinds of braces, patients with Herbst appliances need to be careful about what they eat. Your Herbst appliance will be checked and adjusted at your appointments.

If, sometimes between appointments, you develop some sore areas on the inside of your cheeks, please do not try to adjust the appliance yourself. Call Clinebell & Anderson Orthodontics for an appointment so we can make the necessary adjustments.

Thumb / Finger Appliance

This is an appliance designed to deter thumb or finger-sucking habits. Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers.

Children usually cease thumb-sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of two and four years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth.

One solution to thumb-sucking is an appliance called a "fixed palatal crib." An orthodontist like Dr. Clinebell or Dr. Anderson puts this appliance on the child's upper teeth.

We place this behind the upper teeth on the roof of the mouth. The crib consists of semicircular stainless steel wires fastened to molars using steel bands.

The stainless steel wires fit behind your child's upper front teeth, and they are barely visible. The crib usually stops the habit of thumb-sucking on the first day of use.

Holding Arches

If you need to preserve space in your lower dental arch, Dr. Clinebell and Dr. Anderson may prescribe a fixed appliance called a lower lingual holding arch. This appliance prevents your lower molars from moving forward and maintains space for permanent teeth that haven’t erupted.

The lower lingual holding arch fits completely inside your mouth so nobody can see it. At Clinebell & Anderson Orthodontics, we’ll custom-make these for you after taking an impression or 3D digital scan.

Nance With an Anterior Bite Plate

Much in the same way as the lower lingual holding arch, the Nance arch preserves space for the upper jaw. The Nance arch prevents molars from moving forward in the mouth and makes sure there’s space for later.