The MARA appliance is one of many orthodontic devices that is designed to correct overbites (actually called overjet in the dental community). Because is it non-removable by the patient, it fits into the category of “fixed functional appliances.”
We use the MARA appliance to correct a Class II malocclusion, one of the most common types of orthodontic problems. This orthodontic appliance is an ideal step for teeth and jaw correction prior to braces.
This specific orthodontic appliance works to move the patient’s lower jaw forward so that the top and bottom teeth will meet. When functioning correctly, the only way for the patient to bite down, with MARA in place, is to slide their lower jaw forward.
With time, jaw correction will occur and the bottom jaw will move forward to align with the top jaw. Typically, it takes about 9-12 months for full jaw correction with MARA.
Basic MARA design employs a horizontal “arm” in the lower arch that extends sideways from a stainless steel crown on the lower first molar.
A crown on the upper first molar has a vertical “elbow” that guides the lower jaw forward into the desired position. When correctly adjusted, the only way the patient can bite down is to slide the lower jaw forward so that the lower arms slip in front of the elbows.
As with any orthodontic tool, the MARA has advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages are that it is permanently attached to the teeth and cannot be removed by the patient, it is completely invisible from the outside of the mouth, it can be used before or during the braces phase of treatment, and there is no connection between the upper and lower jaws (so a patient can open his or her jaw as wide as they want).
The disadvantages are that it can irritate the cheeks in some patients, it is not always effective in patients with extreme overbites (if they can bite behind the elbows rather than in front of them), and it is not effective in patients with open bites.