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Behind the Ortho Scenes: The Pendulum Appliance

child with pendulum appliance rides on mother's back

So your orthodontist recommended a pendulum appliance for your child or teen, but what exactly is that? And how does it work? 

When you visit our Johnson City office, Dr. Jewett will tell you everything you need to know about wearing and caring for any orthodontic appliance. But for now, let’s talk about the pendulum appliance.

Pendulum Appliance

The pendulum appliance helps give your smile room by shifting your top molars back to allow crowded teeth in the front to move into healthy alignment. If you or your child have an overbite or crowded teeth, a pendulum appliance is extremely effective in correcting these common orthodontic issues without tooth extraction.

What does a pendulum appliance look like? Hidden behind your front teeth, the pendulum appliance resembles a palatal expander. At the center of this appliance is an acrylic plate with two metal loops (bands) secured around your top first molars. Also attached are stainless steel wires that are cemented in the grooves of your middle teeth to help anchor the appliance. If needed, an expander can be added to this appliance to help widen your jaw. 

While there are many other types of orthodontic appliances, the pendulum appliance is unique because it requires little compliance. Why this? Because the pendulum appliance is fixed or bonded to the teeth and roof of your mouth with dental glue— similar to the composite resin used in teeth fillings. 

Treatment with a Pendulum Appliance

A pendulum appliance will slowly push your molars back over the course of 6 to 8 months depending on the complexity of your condition. Dr. Jewett typically uses this orthodontic device to treat the following conditions in children and adults: 


This happens when your upper teeth protrude past your lower teeth, causing a misalignment between your upper jaw and lower jaw. Overbites or “buck teeth” can cause excessive wear or damage to your teeth, jaw pain, gum disease, and a noticeably uneven jaw. 


Your mouth needs room for crowded teeth to align properly. This is where the pendulum appliance comes into play so you can begin braces or Invisalign treatment and achieve the smile of your dreams! 

Impacted teeth

Permanent teeth can become trapped underneath the gum line or partially erupt— this classifies them as ‘impacted’. A pendulum appliance makes room for impacted teeth that lack the space to fully erupt. Keep in mind that everyone’s teeth and jaws develop at a different rate so not every impacted tooth can be treated with a pendulum appliance. More often than not, impacted teeth can cause trouble— wisdom teeth are notorious for this! Our certified orthodontist, Dr. Jewett will evaluate the state of your impacted teeth and recommend the safest option for you. 

Follow us on Facebook to see before and after pictures of treatment with a pendulum appliance.

Caring for your Pendulum Appliance

During the first two weeks of wearing your pendulum appliance, mild sensitivity and pressure is normal. While your mouth adjusts to your new appliance, we recommend doing warm salt water rinses, using dental wax on the irritating areas of your appliance, and eating softer foods. You can also take an over-the-counter acetaminophen like Tylenol as needed. If you’re experiencing pain or swelling, contact us for an emergency orthodontic visit.

Because a pendulum appliance is bonded to your teeth, it’s extremely important to maintain a good oral health routine! 

Gently brush your teeth, gums, and appliance 3-4 times a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft bristle toothbrush to keep your smile happy and healthy. Using a waterpik makes flossing around your pendulum appliance easy and keeps it free of plaque! Pay special attention to the bands secured to your molars! Keeping your appliance and teeth clean also helps prevent discomfort and cavities.  

Avoid hard, sticky and sweet foods which can damage the appliance. 

Check your appliance daily. If your pendulum appliance becomes loose or a part becomes unglued, call our Johnson City office for an appointment as soon as possible!

Still have a question about the pendulum appliance?

If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We’re here to guide you through your treatment process.

If you’re looking for a top orthodontist in Johnson City, we’d love to meet you! Request a complimentary exam for you or your child today.