Orthodontic headgear is a complex-looking appliance that can be temporarily attached to the patient’s braces and is braced by the head, chin or neck. It is also sometimes called a “night brace”, since many patients wear it to bed.
What Does It Do?
Braces are used to straighten teeth. They work by putting pressure on the teeth and causing them to move into the desired position. Headgear can add to that pressure, and it can also help to correct some jaw problems. For example, an overbite can be caused by an upper jaw that is growing faster than the lower jaw. Orthodontic headgear will hold the upper jaw back to let the lower jaw catch up and give the patient a normal bite. Growth problems of this type only affect children and teenagers, so they are the ones who usually wear this orthodontic appliance.
Adults may wear this appliance if they have recently lost teeth. The headgear will keep the remaining teeth from moving out of alignment to fill the gap created by the missing tooth or teeth.
Parts of the Headgear
Orthodontic headgear has three parts. The j-hook or the facebow is the part that goes inside the patient’s mouth and attaches to their braces. The head cap consists of straps that fit around the head and anchor the appliance. The attachments consist of springs and elastics that attach the j-hook to the head cap.
The cervical pull headgear is a common type. It has a strap that wraps around the back of the patient’s neck and a U-shaped wire that attaches to the bands on their back teeth. The high-pull or occipital pull headgear is similar, but its straps wrap around the top and back of the patient’s head. Both types are used to treat patients with severe overbites. They can also be used to treat adults who have had teeth extracted and don’t want their remaining teeth drifting out of alignment.
The reverse-pull or facemask headgear is typically used to treat patients with underbites, and it works by pulling the upper jaw forward. It consists of a vertical metal frame with two pads at the ends. One pad rests on the patient’s forehead, while the other sits on their chin. The chin pad will have a metal bar running across it. Elastic bands extending from the patient’s braces will be hooked to the bar.
How Long Do People Have to Wear It?
Patients have to wear the appliance for a set time every day, and that time varies depending on the severity of their condition. Most patients have to wear it for at least 12 hours a day. The 12 hours do not have to be consecutive, but patients should wear it for at least an hour at a time.
Learn More Information During an Appointment
Nobody necessarily looks forward to wearing headgear. However, it is often an important part of the orthodontic treatment process, and the small inconvenience will be worth it once you see the final results. Bring your child into Ashburn Children’s Dentistry to see if this appliance is required to help your little one achieve the best smile possible. Our office is located in Ashburn. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.