You may be having trouble with your crooked teeth, or you may be a bit self-conscious about how you look that is why you are consulting your dentist about different ways to correct your teeth alignment. You may have heard your dentist tell you that one of the options he may give you or your child is an orthodontic headgear. What is an orthodontic headgear and how does it work? Here are some commonly asked questions about this orthodontist appliance so you would know and clearly decide if this is the best option for you.
What is an orthodontic headgear?
You may have seen TV shows and movies that depict nerdy kids with a metal contraption on their teeth that extends to the outside of their mouths. This is called an orthodontic headgear. It is a teeth-straightening procedure intended to address malocclusion in kids with still developing jawbones. It is different from braces in a way that some parts of headgears are outside the mouth. It is indicated for kids with moderate to severe malocclusion or teeth misalignment. It is typically for classes II and III of malocclusion.
What are the parts of an orthodontic headgear?
There are several parts of a headgear that you should now., each part has an important role in fixing the alignment of your teeth.
Head cap. This is the part that anchors the entire appliance to your head.
Braces. Like regular orthodontic braces, a headgear also has a similar brace that is attached to the teeth as it gradually moves them to their correct places. Some types of headgears use hooks that attach to the teeth instead of the braces.
Facebow. This is a metal part of the headgear that is attached to the molars or the upper or lower arch. They can be attached to braces depending on the type of headgear.
Attachments. These are different hooks, elastics, springs, or straps that provide the force that the orthodontic appliance needs to move the teeth safely and correctly.
What are the types of orthodontic headgear?
Cervical pull. This type of orthodontic headgear is designed to correct an overjet or an overbite. An overjet is also called buck teeth, where the two upper front teeth are abnormally protruding from the mou7th. An overbite, on the other hand, is the protrusion of the entire upper jaw in comparison to the lower jaw. This makes the upper teeth more emphasized and juts out. Cervical pull headgear is strapped around the neck to exert force on the upper jaw and realign it with the lower one.
High pull. This is similar to the cervical pull headgear when it comes to correcting an overbite. Instead of placing the straps around the neck, the straps are attached to the top backside of the head.
Reverse pull. Used to treat underbite, this type of orthodontic headgear that instead of pushing the upper jaw, it pulls the lower jaw to the front so that it will realign with the upper one.
How does one use a headgear?
A typical headgear is a complementary appliance to kid braces or jaw and palatal expander in such a way that it provides a safe and appropriate amount of force to the teeth and jaws so that the correction of your teeth and jaw alignment become successful. An important reminder that dentists should give to their patients is the amount of time they should wear it, preferably 12 to 14 hours a day. School children who are a bit self-conscious about how they look often prefer wearing them at home, studying and sleeping with it until they go to school the next day. Like any other removable orthodontic appliances like retainers, aligners, and expanders, the more often you use it, the faster its effect would appear.
What are the risks of using a headgear?
Of course, even if headgears are carefully developed by orthodontists, they still have risks and adverse effects on their users, especially if they are not properly used.
Scratches or wounds on face or gums. If your child removes or puts on his headgear forcefully or incorrectly, the contraptions can cause scratches or cuts on his face.
Eye injury. The metal parts of the headgear can also hit the eyes if the patient will wrongly take it off or on.
Speech problems. Because the headgear is attached to their braces, additional foreign bodies will make it difficult for them to pronounce or enunciate their words.
Discomfort. No foreign device or appliance can feel comfortable by nature. This is the same principle with an orthodontic headgear which is mostly made with metal. The additional force and weight it exerts to the head and mouth can also inflict soreness and pain on the patient.
Dos and don’ts with wearing orthodontic headgears
Do not use it when eating. The headgear will make it very difficult for you to chew and bite on your food, so make sure that you remove them during breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack times. You can use straws for drinking to make it easier.
Wear it while brushing teeth. Your child can still wear the headgear while brushing their teeth so that continuous use can be assured. However, if it poses difficulty in brushing the hard-to-reach edges of the teeth, they can remove it while brushing and put it on right after.
Avoid contact sports or physical activities. Different active sports or activities like playing contact sports or playing ball games may introduce the risk of presenting force or impact to the appliance. Make sure that you are taking care of it by making sure you are always safe from trauma or accidents.
Give your child comfort foods. Allowing them to eat ice pops or popsicles can relieve gum irritation or redness and soreness.
Other facts about orthodontic headgear
Wearing the headgear for one to two years is the recommended wearing time.
There will always be a discomfort because you are gradually correcting the alignment of your teeth, but the level of pain will depend on your pain tolerance.
You can switch to a soft diet for the first few weeks of wearing the headgear. This will allow you to consume food without introducing more pressure and discomfort to your mouth.