Headgear

At times, more than braces are needed to provide effective orthodontic treatment. In these cases, your orthodontist may recommend use of orthodontic headgear.

Orthodontic headgear refers to a type of appliance that is worn partly outside the mouth. Its design and external position provides the force necessary to properly move the teeth and guide the growth of facial and jawbones.

What types of headgear are available at the Yuba City Dentistry Group? And what role does a patient play in its effectiveness?

Headgear Types

Orthodontic headgear comes in many different shapes and sizes, and is used for a variety of purposes. A few of them are listed here.

Cervical pull:

This appliance consists of a U-shaped wire that attaches to your back teeth, and includes a strap to be worn behind the neck.  It is typically used to correct an excessive horizontal overbite, also known as an “overjet”. It works by slowing down the growth of the upper jaw.

Cervical pull headgear may also be used to help maintain a proper bite and correct tooth spacing following a tooth extraction. The appliance is designed to be worn for approximately 12-14 hours a day in most cases.

High pull:

This headgear is similar to the cervical pull appliance; however, the strap is worn over and behind the head as opposed to behind the neck. It is used to address the same problems as cervical pull headgear and principally works in the same way.

Reverse pull (facemask):

This type of headgear consists of two pads connected by a vertical frame. One pad is designed to rest on the forehead and the other on the chin. Elastics or wires (connecting the frame to the braces) are used to exert pulling force.

Reverse pull headgear is typically used to correct an underbite. It works by gently pulling the upper jaw forward, to help it catch up with the lower jaw. A patient may need to wear this headgear between 14-16 hours a day.

The Patient’s Role

As you can imagine, it’s completely normal to experience some discomfort when beginning to wear orthodontic headgear. However, this discomfort usually disappears after a few days. (Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage minor pain.)

In order for orthodontic headgear to work, a patient must use it as directed by the dentist. This means wearing it for the full time specified. If a patient misses wearing the appliance for just one day, it could completely negate the effect of the previous seven days!

It is common to experience general soreness and even the feeling that the first molars are a little loose. Not only is this normal, it demonstrates that the headgear is doing its job. However, if you are in unusual pain, part of the appliance becomes loose, or the headgear suddenly doesn’t fit properly, you should contact your dentist as soon as possible.

Well Worth It

Wearing orthodontic headgear may not be convenient in the beginning, and it definitely takes some getting used to. But it’s important to remember that while wearing such an appliance is temporary, the resulting benefits of a healthy mouth and beautiful smile aren’t. And that’s well worth the effort!
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