Well, this is not what we were expecting for today. Headgear braces are such a controversial topic; there’s no easy way to go about it. When we recommend a patient uses braces, we do so because we want to provide you with a non-surgical solution to your dental and jaw alignment problems. But some cases are just too severe and might require more powerful appliances, such as dental braces and headgear.
As with many other orthodontic appliances, your dental headgear works to improve your dental alignment or correct existing jaw malocclusions. These devices, however, are useful mostly in cases of young children or teenagers whose bones are still growing.
What Are Headgear Braces?
Unlike most orthodontic appliances, some parts of the headgear will go outside of your mouth. The many parts of headgear include:
- A head cap: this piece sits on the patient’s head and anchors all the remaining pieces.
- Straps: these are used to provide force at a specific angle and, depending on the model used by the patient, will wrap around the back of the neck or over the head.
- Facebow: this part, usually metal-made and u-shaped, attaches to your molars, head cap, and straps.
- Elastic bands, tubes, and hooks: As with any other appliance, these parts anchor various parts of the headgear to the molars.
- Forehead pad, chin cup, and mouth yoke: you may not necessarily require all of them at once but these parts provide additional tension and direction to the force applied over the teeth by the headgear.
How to Use Headgear Braces?
The goal of wearing headgear braces, as with every other tool in orthodontics, is to safely and gradually move teeth until they reach the proper position and desired alignment.
New patients will only have to wear their appliances for a few hours every day. Make sure you ask your orthodontist about what to expect. As with any other appliance, you will go through an adjustment period where your teeth will feel sore.
To successfully move your teeth, you will have to wear your headgear appliance for 12 to 14 hours per day. The good news, however, is that you won’t have to do so for 12 hours straight. A patient can wear their headgear for 8 hours while being asleep and finish the remaining 4 to 6 hours throughout the day. Please keep in mind that the longer and more often the headgear is worn, the quicker the jaws and teeth will move.
You could wear your headgear while doing errands in the house, reading, watching television, or any activities that do not require moving your face too much. However, sudden movements may affect the headgear, so it is important not to run or participate in strenuous sports while wearing such an appliance.
How Long Will I Need to Wear Headgear? Months? Years?
Depending on the patient’s treatment plan, they may need to wear headgear for as little as one year or for a few years. The length of time you spend with a headgear also depends on your overall compliance with our recommendations. Please do your best to wear the headgear for the full 12 to 14 hours every day or as long as your orthodontist indicates.
In general, the longer a patient wears headgear throughout the day, the fewer months you’ll have to wear it.
What Are the Types of Headgear?
We mostly classify these appliances based on the type of force they apply over your teeth and desired motions. Primarily, there are three types of headgear.
This variation is particularly useful in cases of overjets and overbites. The straps go attached from the patient’s upper jaw to the top and back of the head.
Keep in mind that these are efficient in patients whose bones are still growing, so children with a diagnosed open bite or other jaw malocclusions are likely candidates for this appliance.
This type can also help with extreme cases of upper jaw alignment problems. Young children with an overjet or overbite could receive a headgear for their orthodontic care. Here, the straps won’t go around the top of the head but will wrap around the back of the neck where you have the cervical vertebrae.
This case works better for problems with the development of the upper jaw and underbites. Rubber bands will help attach the braces from the headgear to the top teeth and gradually move them where necessary.
What Your Natomas, Sacramento Orthodontist Says
Here at Markham Orthodontics, we work hard to offer our patients the most convenient solutions. Some appliances fit specific lifestyles and routines better than others. Make sure you ask us about headgears and whether you need them or not.