(703) 542-6336       25401 Eastern Market Place Plaza, Suite 100, Chantilly, VA 20152

Orthodontic Appliances

What is an Orthodontic Appliance?

An orthodontic appliance is a wearable device that is used when braces alone won’t provide the degree of correction needed for a healthy bite. Unlike braces, orthodontic appliances can be easily removed by the patient as needed.

Below we’ll cover a few different types of orthodontic appliances and why each is used.

Types of Orthodontic Appliances

In this article, we’ll cover the following types of appliances:

  •  Orthodontic Headgear
  • Elastics
  • Palatal Expanders

Orthodontic Headgear

Orthodontic headgear is sometimes known as an “extra-oral” appliance because it is worn outside of the mouth. These devices function by anchoring to bony landmarks on the neck and head to hep correct overbite, underbite or open bite. Headgear can be removed by the patient for periodic cleaning and while playing sports, rough housing or eating.

These devices apply force to the patient’s teeth and jaw to create an optimal shape for healthy growth. They also prevent teeth from shifting during treatment. Headgear is usually recommended when braces alone cannot deliver the support needed for healthy development.

Orthodontic headgear is most often worn by children and teens because their jaws are still developing and are more easily manipulated. However, headgear can also be helpful for adult treatments in which a tooth has been removed, and other teeth may shift out of a place without additional support.

3 Types of Orthodontic Headgear

Cervical Headgear

Cervical headgear anchors at the back of the neck and is meant to correct an overbite.

High-pull Headgear

High-pull headgear anchors at the back of the head to correct an overbite. This treatment is often used when a child has an open bite, which means the upper and lower teeth do not touch when the mouth is closed.

Reverse-pull Facemask

Reverse-pull headgear anchors on the forehead and chin in order to move the upper jaw forward and correct an underbite.

At Omar Orthodontics, Dr. Anisa Omar and her staff collaborate with their patients to determine the best ortho appliances for their specific treatment plans.


Elastics are small rubber bands that anchor to a patient’s braces and pull the lower jaw forward or backward to correct an overbite or underbite.

Palatal Expanders

The upper jaw is also known as the palate. Palatal expanders are typically used when a patient’s upper jaw is too narrow, resulting in crowded upper teeth or teeth which don’t properly contact the teeth below. Expanders widen a patient’s upper jaw by applying pressure to the upper molars in incremental stages. Once a palate has been expanded to a healthy width, the patient may continue to wear the device for a few more months to ensure that the expansion is permanent.

Palatal expanders are most commonly worn by children and teens whose bones are still developing and maleable. Since bones are still developing at this age, wearing a palatal expander can also improve facial symmetry.
Learn more about palatal expanders.

Visit our Chantilly, VA office to learn more about orthodontic appliances, or reach out to us by phone at 703-542-6336 to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Anisa Omar.


T M Bowman
June 17, 2024

We absolutely couldn’t have selected a better team for our son’s braces. I spent quite some time researching and comparing different companies. Everything from price, speed of getting an appointment, their treatment strategy and bedside manner of the provider. They have been amazing to work with and we will continue to recommend them to our friends and family.

Max Ahiakpo
May 3, 2024

Best Orthodontist almost like family to me and my family, professional, and caring Shoutout Dr.Omar and all her assistance throughout the years!

Sherwin Thwaites
December 6, 2023

Dr. Omar and her team are phenomenal! Over my 2.5-year braces journey, the warmth of the office atmosphere and the outstanding care make it feel like a second home. Dr. Omar is truly the best – her expertise and the genuine sense of being treated like family set this orthodontic practice apart. Highly recommend for all your orthodontic needs!