Dental Appliances in Pediatric Dentistry

Are very common. They might be used for both preventative and treatment purposes. It can be a challenge to make your child wear the appliance regularly, but in the end, it is worth it to use one. They are capable of preventing teeth injury and reducing the need for treatment in the future.

Most Common Pediatric Dental Appliances

Mouth guards

We highly recommend wearing mouth guards for someone who participates in risky activities which include a high possibility of injury (sports, martial arts). Such appliances can be customized individually for the child’s mouth or purchased as a thermoplastic type of “boil-and-bite” mouthguard which can be easily found at sports stores. A similar type of mouth guard is used for bruxism sufferers–those that grind and clench their teeth at night.

Space Maintainers

Sometimes due to tooth decay or trauma, baby teeth are lost too early. Neighboring teeth tend to move towards the empty space in order to fill it in, resulting in spacing and tooth alignment problems for permanent teeth. Space maintainers act as placeholders until the adult teeth erupt.

Two Types of Space Maintainers

Fixed space maintainers – there are different shapes of spaces maintainers but they operate in the same way. They are usually made of metal and are very solid. If the tooth is missing an aesthetic zone, there might be an acrylic button added.

Removable space maintainers – these types of space maintainers are rarely used for young patients. They function like orthodontic retainers and the plastic parts that cover the empty space prevent the neighboring teeth from moving in.

Thumb Sucking Appliances

Most children naturally outgrow the habit of thumb sucking. On the other hand, children who continue to thumb suck after the age of 5-6 have a high potential to experience oral complications. If it is left untreated it can easily result in impacted teeth, narrowed arches or misaligned teeth. Appliances geared towards thumb sucking usually stop the behavior right away. The palatal crib is adapted to the teeth by a pediatric dentist and is almost invisible, resembling dental braces. This appliance prevents the thumb from reaching the roof of the mouth, so it breaks the habit.

Expansion Dental Appliances

These appliances are used to widen and stretch the arch, by making some space for the teeth to be realigned and straightened. They are usually used for someone who has an overbite or upper front teeth protrusion. Crossbite can be treated also. Children with cleft palates may be required to wear such appliance in order to prepare for the jaw oral surgery. They are custom-made and can be fixed either inside or outside of the teeth.


If your dentist guesses that your child’s jaws are not balanced and grow asymmetrically to one another, then such a device might be recommended. The bionator places the lower jaw more forward and in this way and helps the teeth to align and erupt in the correct places. Moreover, this appliance helps to reduce the chances of long orthodontic treatment in the future and develops natural looking alignment.

If you have any concerns or questions about pediatric dental appliances, feel free to contact us at Orange County Pediatric Dental Group and schedule your visit with our well-trained specialists. Call us: 714-972-1359.