Temporary anchorage devices, also known as TADs, help orthodontists to achieve tooth movement when it is necessary for orthodontic treatment. TADs are a relatively new development in orthodontics, having only been used widely for treatment since the 1990s. TADs can help orthodontists to avoid more painful and invasive treatment methods in some cases. TADs can also help orthodontists achieve more ideal results than may be possible using other means of treatment.
TADs are small titanium screws that are implanted into the bone of the upper or lower jaws. These titanium screws serve as an anchorage point in the mouth which springs and elastics can be attached to in order to move the teeth in the desired way. TADs range from 6 to 12 millimeters in length and 1.2 to 2 millimeters in diameter.
TADs are most commonly placed between the roots of the teeth, but may be placed in the roof of the mouth as well. There is a special device that is used to place the devices directly into the bone. Placement does not hurt, as there are no nerve endings in the bone, so only a topical anesthetic is generally used. TAD placement is usually done by an orthodontist so that the TAD is in exactly the desired position for treatment.
Orthodontic treatment time can be reduced by one third by using a TAD. Orthodontists may avoid jaw surgery by opting to place a TAD instead. Orthodontists may also avoid unwanted tooth movement that can occur when teeth are used to anchor the movement of other teeth. Orthodontists may also avoid using cumbersome headgear to achieve the same results which are attainable with TADs.
TADs can cause infection and complication if not properly cleaned and cared for. Care is easy, though, as patients simply need to brush TADs twice a day or more with a soft bristle toothbrush. Patients should also avoid picking at or touching TADs, as orthodontists will need to perform adjustments if the device comes loose.
TADs are only used for a short period of time through treatment, though the exact length of treatment may vary according to the specific needs of the patient. TADs are versatile and may be moved during treatment to achieve desired tooth movements. The site where TADs were placed typically heals very quickly with no adverse effects following removal.