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Functional braces

These are used to correct the front-to-back position of the jaws and teeth

What is a functional brace?

Functional braces or functional appliances (e.g. the Twin Block) are a popular way of reducing the projection of the front teeth in patients who are growing. Functional appliances may be either fixed or removable.

What is a Twin Block brace?

A twin block is a functional appliance that will help straighten your teeth and encourage your jaws to grow by working on the upper and lower teeth at the same time. The success of the treatment is completely dependent on you following the instructions given to you by your orthodontist, so try to follow them as best as you can.

The twin block appliance is made up of two removable braces, which should be worn together at all times, ensuring the lower jaw is postured forwards and closed, so that the two blocks engage.

Below, we have listed some frequently asked questions about wearing a twin block appliance, but if you want to know anything else, your orthodontist will be happy to help.

  • How much do I need to wear the appliance?

    For best results you should wear the twin blocks all the time. You can take it out when cleaning your teeth, playing sports and swimming, though it is better to wear them at meal times. This requires practice but it is well worth it.

  • Will it be painful?

    It shouldn’t be painful, but at first it will be a little uncomfortable, and it might take you a few days to adjust to wearing it. You must keep the blocks in contact at all times when fitted, and you will very quickly learn to speak with the blocks together.

    If you experience too much discomfort, simple painkillers you would take for a headache can help, though you should read the packet beforehand to avoid any problems.

    Should the discomfort continue, make sure you arrange an appointment to see your orthodontist and explain to them that you are uncomfortable, so they can check the appliance is properly fitted.

  • How else will it affect me?

    To start with your speech will be different, but this is normal, so don’t be too concerned. Practise speaking with your appliance in place by reading out loud by yourself and your speech should return to normal within a couple of days.

    You might also find you are producing and swallowing more saliva than usual, but this is completely normal and will soon pass.

  • Can I eat normally?

    For your treatment to work well and in the shortest possible time, it is important that you take care of both your teeth and your appliance. In order to prevent damage to both, you should:

    • avoid sugary snacks and drinks between meals and at bedtime
    • avoid sticky, chewy or hard sweets, mints and sugared chewing gum
    • avoid fizzy drinks, including diet drinks, and large amounts of fruit juice
    • hard or chewy foods, such as apples, carrots and crusty bread can damage your appliance. Avoid them, or cut them up before eating
  • How long will I have to wear the twin block?

    The length of your treatment can vary, but it shouldn’t exceed 12 months, typically followed by 18 to 24 months of fixed appliance treatment such as braces.

    You will need regular appointments during treatment so the twin blocks can be adjusted. Failed or cancelled appointments, as well as repeated breakages of the appliance will add to your overall treatment time.

  • Can I remove the twin block?

    As mentioned above, your appliance should only be removed for cleaning and sports, unless you are told otherwise. When it is not in your mouth it should be in its protective box.

    Try not to click the brace in and out with your tongue as this will break the wires and increase the length of time the treatment will take. Replacement twin blocks are currently charged at over £100 per set.

  • What about cleaning and tooth brushing?

    You should make sure to remove the twin blocks and brush your teeth twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste. If possible, carry a brush with you for use after lunch.

    Gently brush the twin blocks themselves with a fluoride toothpaste, taking care not to damage the wires.

    You should also use fluoride mouthwash last thing at night after brushing. The appliance itself can be freshened up by using effervescent cleansing tablets.

    Be careful, as failure to keep your teeth and appliance clean might lead to permanent scarring of your teeth.

  • Do I still need to see my regular dentist?

    Yes. It is important that you still have regular check-ups with your dentist throughout orthodontic treatment so that your teeth can be checked for decay.

  • What if my appliance breaks?

    Twin blocks are very expensive to make, so you must look after them. Take the twin blocks out carefully using the clips at the back and when putting them back in, make sure the wires go into the correct place.

    If your appliance breaks, try to continue wearing it and contact us immediately for an appointment.

  • What if I play contact sports?

    You should wear a gum shield instead of your functional appliance when playing contact sports. Remember to keep your appliance in its protective box to avoid any damage whilst it is out of your mouth.

  • How often will I need an appointment?

    You should make regular appointments, usually every 6 to 8 weeks, during treatment. Please bring your toothbrush to every appointment and clean your teeth thoroughly before each visit.

    Not attending appointments will prolong treatment and if you miss more than three appointments your treatment will be discontinued.