Expanders and Other Growth Appliances

Palatal Expander

A palatal expander is an appliance that fits into the roof of your mouth (palate). It widens your palate to improve the way your upper and lower jaws and teeth fit together (your bite). You wear a palatal expander for about 3 months. It may take a few days for you to get accustomed to your new palate expander.


A pendex appliance has two functions. The first is to widen your palate (to make your upper jaw wider), and the second function is to distalize the upper molars (push molars back) to allow teeth to fit together properly. After expansion is complete, the appliance will stay in approximately 3 months depending on how quickly the teeth move. Sometimes it may involve wearing a headgear to help push the molars back. Just like the palatal expander, it may take a few days to get used to.

Quad Helix

A quad helix is an appliance placed on the upper molars used to help with maintaining upper width of the upper jaw relative to the lower jaw. This is a fixed appliance and it is permanent until the Dr. removes it. It is generally quite easy for patients to adapt to its use once the appliance is placed.

6-6 with Springs

A 6-6 with springs is an appliance to expand the lower jaw. It widens by up-righting your lower teeth to create more room. It is spring activated and usually stays in the mouth for 4 to 6 months depending on movement of the teeth. There is usually minimal discomfort depending on the difficulty of insertion. Difficulty with talking will vary depending on how much you practice your speech.

Herbst Appliance

A Herbst appliance is a device that helps improve the way your upper and lower jaws and teeth fit together (your bite). With these patients, we would like to encourage the lower jaw to catch up in growth, and braces like the Herbst appliance help this happen. A Herbst appliance moves the lower jaw forward while pushing the upper jaw backward. It may take you a few weeks to adjust to your Herbst appliance.

As with all kinds of braces, patients with Herbst appliances need to be careful about what they eat. For instance, cold foods such as ice slushes, popsicles, and ice will freeze the cement and make the brace loosen. Sticky foods such as caramels, bubble gum and candy suckers will pull the brace away from the teeth. Hard foods like crisp vegetables and hard candies will bend and loosen the Herbst appliance too. So stay away from these foods during your orthodontic treatment.

Herbst appliances are not utilized to treat all orthodontic problems. It takes skill, and experience to recognize conditions that will respond favorably to this appliance. Timing of such therapy also is very important.

Have a Question? Send us a note.