There’s much more to orthodontic treatment than just your standard braces and archwires. Modern orthodontic practices include an array of devices and tools that your orthodontist will discuss with you. It’s always helpful to understand common orthodontic options and terms so that you can easily work with your orthodontist and make the most informed decisions possible about your treatment plan. One such orthodontic device is called a TPA, or Transpalatal Arch, and it involves other orthodontic devices such as spacers and bands.
What Is A Transpalatal Arch?
The TPA is a stainless steel bar that rests against the curvature of the roof of your mouth (palate.) Each side of the bar is anchored in place by metal orthodontic bands that encircle the tooth. These bands are cemented to an upper molar on both the right and left upper sides of your mouth. Both the bands and bar remain in place for the duration of your TPA treatment.
What Does A Transpalatal Arch Do?
The main purpose of this orthodontic tool is to correctly position molars that can’t otherwise be influenced by braces alone.
The process is a more intense, precise, and detail-oriented treatment option to keep the molars in place, such as during growth guidance in children or when permanent molars have functional loss.
TPAs can be used to slow upper back molar growth, particularly when there’s excess vertical growth of upper teeth. It can also be used as a sort of space holder to allow new molars to erupt correctly, and it can be instrumental in preventing upper eye teeth from becoming impacted. Open bites, which occur when upper and lower teeth don’t align to touch one another, are one of the most common issues treated by TPAs.
TPAs may follow tooth extraction recommendations, and it can be used both before and during treatment with braces. Treatment time with a TPA depends on the reason for usage, but, as a general rule, you can expect to wear the device for 12 – 24 months.
What To Expect If You Need A TPA
Your orthodontist will begin by making a mold/impression of your teeth to determine the size of orthodontic band you’ll need. To accommodate the orthodontic band, your orthodontists will generally need to place some plastic spacers in the area.
The spacers will stay in place for around a week or more before your next appointment. The spacers are removed, the bands cemented, and then the TPA is secured to the cemented bands.
How To Care For A TPA
When the Transpalatal Arch is first applied, there may some mild discomfort or a slight headache from the TPA’s added pressure, and it can take a few days to get accustomed to your tongue feeling the bar. Your orthodontist will likely recommend acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the initial discomfort. After a few days, you’re likely to not even notice the TPA is even there.
Remember that the orthodontic band encircles your tooth, which means the tooth can be more prone to dental decay if you don’t practice stellar oral hygiene and care. Brush, floss, and rinse regularly. Your orthodontist will further instruct you on how to keep your TPA clean as part of your oral hygiene practices and can provide you with any special brushes or rinses they’d like you to use.
You’ll also want to avoid sticky and hard food stuffs that can loosen or disturb the TPA and orthodontic bands.