Is Orthodontic Headgear Really Necessary Anymore?

While it is true that kids have growing bodies, it is also true that that growth can go in bad directions. Malocclusions, the technical term for an improper bite line, are one potential problem of unchecked and uncontrolled development. Braces and other orthodontic equipment were invented to control the development of a child’s smile, correcting it into a proper alignment when the problem is small.

Orthodontics is more than just putting braces into a mouth. Much like with braces and jaw surgery, a headgear is just one more tool of the trade. While braces correct the teeth, headgear has a different role, correcting jawlines, which will be covered in more detail down below.

Why Is Headgear Used For Braces?

Headgear helps to correct issues with overbites and underbites, especially when dealing with kids between the ages of 7 and 13. Since the headgear rests around the head, it can adjust the jawline of the patient better than if you solely depend on braces. There are multiple types of headgear and each has its own role.

  • Some models restrain the upper jaw so that the lower jaw can “catch up” during oral development.
  • Other models can pull the upper molars, in cases of an overbite or crowding.
  • Either a facemask or reverse-pull model applies pressure in such a way that teeth are pulled forward, fixing the patient’s underbite.

What Are The Alternatives To Wearing Headgear?

While the headgear has long been a reliable and useful tool orthodontists can use to correct the bites of their patients, it is not the only one. Children that are exceptionally prone to bullying or tend to be sensitive overall may dread their headgear; a tool that is designed to keep the child’s smile in alignment draws them more than enough attention to make them uncomfortable or do anything in their power to not be seen.

If you are dealing with someone who absolutely refuses to go around with an orthodontic headgear wrapped around his head, there are solutions to the conflict of present aesthetic versus aesthetics down the line.

The most popular alternative to wearing a headgear would be a temporary dental implant. While temporary implants will pull the teeth in the necessary direction just as well as a traditional orthodontic headgear, they may not be an option in cases where a patient has severe crowding. In cases of extreme crowding the implant can actually exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, the issue.

How Long Does Headgear Have To Be Worn?

There is no absolute metric when it comes to the length of time that someone needs to wear his headgear as every mouth is unique. While it takes at least 10 hours a day to generate any progress in correcting the patient’s jaw, an orthodontist may recommend that his patient wears a headgear anywhere from 12 to 22 hours each day.

The good news for those people dreading spending half their day, or more, wearing their headgear is that this time need not be consecutive; nothing prevents you from wearing it for periodic amounts of time throughout the day-you just need to wear it for the recommended minimum amount of time as dictated by your orthodontist.

When it comes to how many months, or years, a person needs to wear a headgear, most patients can abandon their headgear anywhere from 12 to 18 months later. Again, every mouth is unique and the orthodontist is the ultimate arbiter on how long a person should wear their headgear, throughout the day and over calendar months.

Is Headgear Easy To Break?

While headgear is already being lightly stressed when in use, it is important to remember that it is a piece of metal. While people who have to wear a headgear know that they should put it away during physically active activities like Physical Education class, this is more of a safeguard against bending the headgear and ruining its ability to correct the patient’s occlusion. A headgear is no more or less breakable than its material.

How To Keep Headgear Clean

  • Keep vigilant about brushing your teeth; do it even more than you did before receiving your headgear. Make sure to be thorough and brush around the various bands and hooks as these have lots of little points that bits of food can get stuck behind.
  • Floss however your orthodontist tells you to do it. You may also be told to skip some spaces in your mouth as you floss, this is likely so that the bands do not slacken up and reduce the effectiveness of the headgear.
  • As long as you are brushing your teeth, do not forget to brush the pieces of your facebow that go inside your mouth. Alternatively, you can scrub the metal bits with clear antibacterial soap and then give it a good rinse.
  • As far as the straps and the other bits of a headgear are concerned, they do not really need to be subjected to regular washing; it is not like they go anywhere close enough to your mouth to feed the bacteria within. However, if you notice an unsightly stain somewhere, either give it a wipe with a damp cloth or abide by your orthodontist’s instructions on how best to clean it.
  • When it comes to removing the headgear, start by detaching the elastic strap, un-tethering it from the bow. This will keep your eyes safe while also placing less stress on the equipment.

In Conclusion

Orthodontic headgear is a valuable invention to correct aberrant bite lines, known as malocclusion. While braces have their place in orthodontia, a comprehensive correction of teeth and the jaws that house them can only arise by combining braces with a headgear. In cases where a patient fears for his social standing and barring cases of extreme dental crowding, temporary dental implants may be a suitable replacement for a headgear,

A headgear works by gently stressing the jaw’s development over a period of years, provided that the patient wears it for as long as their orthodontist recommends on a daily basis. A headgear is a durable piece of material; while it is not indestructible, most people do just fine with the first one they are given. Lastly, it is important to not only continue to brush your teeth if you must wear a headgear but you should also remember to both sanitize and apply toothpaste to the areas that enter your mouth.

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