If you are investigating orthodontic treatment options for children and adults you’ll find there are a variety of appliances available and they all have roles in creating a beautiful healthy smile. Aside from the usual fixed expanders and braces, there are appliances that can be easily removed, commonly referred to as ‘plates.’

Dr Dan Vickers, one of our specialist orthodontists from North Shore Orthodontics, answers some common questions parents ask:

What is a plate?

An orthodontic plate is a hard acrylic or plastic device which fits behind and around the top teeth, the bottom teeth or sometimes both. They have wires, screws and springs which are used to gently move teeth into improved positions. They can also be used to passively hold teeth in place as other adult teeth enter your child’s mouth. These passive plates are called space maintainers.

 Some ‘Functional appliances’ are more complicated removable plates. These plates modify the direction the teeth and jaws grow and work especially well in children whose upper teeth are protruding and have a smaller lower jaw.

Unlike braces, plates are not fixed to the teeth, so they can be removed. This can be an advantage as your child can take the plate out to eat, to play sport and clean it

After orthodontic treatment is finished a removable plastic appliance known as a ‘retainer’ is sometimes worn to help maintain a beautiful smile. Some people also refer to their retainer as a ‘plate’.

When are plates likely to be recommended by your specialist orthodontists?

Generally, traditional acrylic plates are worn by younger children to correct very minor crowding or bite problems. They are often used for about 6 to 12 months.

If your child needs very simple orthodontic treatment and is around 8 to 10 years of age we may recommend they wear a plate.  However the use of such plates is much less common now than in the past. Braces, or other fixed appliances, can be a better option even for young patients, as they can generally fix problems much more efficiently, are usually more comfortable and require less effort from the child and family.  For some children, being responsible for consistently wearing their plate, keeping it clean and not losing it may be a challenge. This is something we discuss when considering the best treatment options for your child.

What are Invisalign plates?

Over the last decade or more a special type of clear, thinner and more flexible plastic plate has become more popular for mainly the treatment of adults. The most common brand of such plates is Invisalign. Invisalign can be used for limited or simpler adult treatments but has some limitations such as the degree of correction that can be achieved. Never the less it is one of the options we use, especially for adults who feel they cannot wear normal metal braces.

When should my child be assessed to see if treatment is needed? 

At North Shore Orthodontics we recommend a child having their first orthodontic assessment about 7-9 years of age, although most children will not start treatment until much later. This is to identify any developing problems and to start early intervention, such as a plate, if needed. After a child’s initial assessment, if early treatment is not required, we like to see them annually for a quick check up so that we can make sure their orthodontic treatment starts at the best possible time for them. We do not charge for these short review visits which is great news for families. 

 First step

Simply call our practice on 9418 1660 to book an orthodontic assessment or go to our Contact Us page and submit a request. We look forward to creating your beautiful, confident, healthy and straight smile.