When you hear the phrase “orthodontic headgear,” what image comes to mind? Unless you had headgear yourself or knew someone who did growing up, your only reference likely comes from movies, in which case the appliance is always massive, unwieldy, and basically a joke. In reality, orthodontic headgear is still very much in use, and fortunately, it enables many patients to achieve a straight and attractive smile that they couldn’t get otherwise. What is the purpose of headgear? Is it common? Will your child need it? Your orthodontist in Powell answers all of these questions and more in today’s blog.
The Basics of Orthodontic Headgear
While much rarer than in the past, orthodontic headgear is still utilized by orthodontists around the world. Instead of the massive, medieval-looking thing you’ve seen in cinema, today’s headgear usually consists of a thin metal bar that attaches to and extends away from metal braces as well as a few straps that go around the head. It’s quite compact and comfortable, and it enables orthodontists to accomplish certain things that often can’t be done with braces alone.
Why is Orthodontic Headgear Used?
When talking about orthodontics, a lot of emphasis gets placed on the alignment of the teeth, and this is for good reason! It’s one of the most common ways the discipline is applied. But, orthodontics can do much more than simply shift the teeth this way or that. It can also be used to realign the bite, which sometimes means directing the growth and development of the jawbones.
For one reason or another, the upper or lower jaw may develop more slowly than its partner, and this will lead to a misaligned bite, such as an overbite, underbite, or crossbite. While solely moving the teeth can sometimes fix this, in other cases, adjusting the jawbone itself is called for. This is where headgear comes into play.
The forces applied by headgear are designed to stimulate forward growth in one of the jawbones, which over time, can make more room for the teeth (which in turn enables braces to be more effective), help the bite come together properly, open up the airway, create a fuller and more attractive face…the list of benefits goes on and on.
Will Your Child Need Headgear?
The need for headgear is best determined by your child’s orthodontist after giving them an exam. Often, the same improvements provided by headgear can be achieved using smaller appliances, and your orthodontist will be more than happy to go over your options.
What’s important to remember is that A.) a recommendation for headgear usually means that it’s very necessary to give your child the healthiest, most beautiful smile possible, and B.) the headgear itself will be quite small, and your child will likely only have to wear it to bed, so it shouldn’t cause any social issues at school or around friends.
Headgear is able to accomplish some truly amazing things when applied correctly, enabling a patient to smile better, breathe better, and do simple things like eat and speak more comfortably, which can make a tremendous difference for someone’s daily life and long-term wellbeing.
About the Author
Dr. Jeffrey Shirck is an award-winning orthodontist in Powell who is able to provide high-quality specialty dentistry for patients of all ages. When you bring your child to see him for a FREE consultation, he’ll thoroughly go over their treatment options so you can completely understand what’s available. If headgear is called for, he’ll apply it in such a way that it will help your child achieve gorgeous results while having a comfortable experience. To learn more about this particular treatment and the other services available at Shirck Orthodontics, give us a call today.