Douglas Peyton, DDS, MS | Des Moines Orthodontics  
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Use & Care of Appliances


Successful orthodontic treatment requires a consistent, cooperative effort by both the orthodontist and the patient. The teeth and jaws will move to the desired position if patients wear the elastics, headgear or other appliances, as directed. Proper wear will reduce the time it takes to finish your orthodontic treatment. We have listed a few of the common appliances that we may use, what they do, and how to care for them.

Elastics (Rubber bands)

Elastics are used to move the teeth in ways the braces cannot do alone. To be effective, elastics must be worn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week unless directed otherwise. Part-time elastic wear can greatly extend treatment time as the teeth will relapse back during times they aren't being worn and can cause the teeth to be constantly sore.

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Wearing elastics can cause the teeth and jaws to be tender for the first few days. This is normal and should disappear within a week of full time wear. If your soreness continues, please call our office.

Elastics should only be removed to eat and brush your teeth and should be replaced immediately by new ones. Over time elastics loose their strength and you should change them routinely even if they aren't broken.

You should carry elastics with you at all times. If you do not have enough to last until your next appointment, please stop by the office to pick some up or call us and we can mail you more.

Remember, good elastic wear is important to staying on time with your treatment and improves the quality of the results you will achieve!


Orthodontists use headgear to move teeth and take advantage of a patient's own growth to help correct an overbite. The headgear slows growth of the upper jaw to allow the lower jaw to catch up. We use headgear to move your teeth and jaws in a way braces alone can't.

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The headgear is a removable appliance that has two parts. One part is adjusted to slide into your braces on the back molars and the second part fits around the neck or back of the head. Headgear is usually worn at night and in the evening. The more you wear headgear the better it works, and you can reduce the time in braces by wearing it.

When you have a headgear:

  • Be consistent, wear it every day
  • Wear it at least 10 hours each day unless otherwise instructed
  • Do not wear it to school, outside, or during active sports
  • Do not allow the headgear to be damaged
  • Do not let anyone touch it when you have it on

You should expect to feel some pressure when wearing your headgear. This should subside with continued wear. If a band that the headgear connects to comes loose, please contact our office for an appointment to have it recemented.

Remember, wearing your headgear as directed is important to staying on time with your treatment and improves the quality of the results you will achieve!

Palatal Expander

A palatal expander widens your upper jaw with gentle pressure applied to the upper back teeth. After we have achieved the desired width, you will continue to wear the expander for several more months to allow the bones to solidify and prevent relapse. You will not have to use the expander all the way through your treatment.

Turn the expansion screw as directed, usually once every three days. If you are unable to keep your next scheduled appointment, stop turning the expander until we can see you again.


Separators are placed between teeth when we need space to fit a band around a tooth. If needed, these are usually placed one week prior to fitting braces on the teeth.

Separators apply pressure and may cause a slight discomfort for a few hours. Feel free to take Advil™ or Tylenol™ for relief, if necessary.

Please avoid any sticky foods that may dislodge the separators!


See "Retainers".

oines Orthodontics
  Des Moines Orthodontics
22221 7th Avenue South, Des Moines WA 98198
p: 206.824.8288
f: 206.824.3859
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