When Is Braces Headgear Necessary?
By Kellyn Hodges on December 17, 2013
Although many candidates for orthodontic treatment dread the thought of having to wear headgear, there are cases when doing so can reward the wearer with tremendous dividends. Headgear can be instrumental in the correction of a severe underbite or overbite. In exchange for a few months of inconvenience, patients who wear headgear generally emerge from treatment with dramatically improved oral health and a more proportionate smile.
Not all patients of our practice in Philadelphia require headgear to achieve the best possible results. Orthodontist Kellyn Hodges evaluates the mouths of each patient to determine the best course of treatment and then explains his or her options in full detail.
What Is Headgear?
Headgear is an orthodontic appliance that exerts force on the teeth and jaw from the outside of the patient’s mouth. The purpose of headgear is to augment traditional braces in the treatment of overbites and underbites, usually in children whose jaws are still developing. The device restricts the growth of the upper jaw for a period so that the lower jaw can “catch up,” thereby helping to ensure a proper bite and a cosmetically appealing smile.
Why Would a Patient Need to Wear Headgear?
While traditional metal braces are extremely effective at guiding the teeth into their proper positions and realigning the jaw, there are some instances in which braces are not sufficient in and of themselves. In such cases, the external support of headgear can help to accelerate treatment and produce tooth and jaw movement that would not be possible with braces alone. Some patients may be able to achieve good results without headgear but might benefit from choosing to wear headgear, in which case Dr. Hodges would advise them of their options and the attendant benefits and consequences.
How Long Does Headgear Have to Be Worn?
Contrary to what many people believe, most patients do not have to wear their headgear 24 hours a day, suffering through months of extreme self-consciousness. Some patients may have to wear their headgear as little as ten hours a day, while it is rare for patients to be advised to wear them for more than fourteen hours a day. This means that most children won’t have to wear their headgear during school hours, which is a big source of relief for many of our younger patients. Then again, this means that they will have to be that much more careful to wear the headgear as recommended for the remainder of the day.
Benefits of Headgear
The benefits of wearing headgear include a lifetime of improved oral health and a more beautiful, symmetrical smile. While having to wear headgear may seem like a terrible burden - and it can be uncomfortable and slightly embarrassing - most patients find that the benefits more than outweigh that burden in the end.
Learn More about Headgear
To learn more about headgear and whether you or your child might benefit from wearing it, please contact Dr. Kellyn Hodges at her orthodontics practice today. We’d be pleased to hear from you!