February 3, 2010

About Orthodontic Headgear

Why Orthodontic Headgear? Dental Health Concerns

If you feel concern about an overbite, crowding of the teeth, or a profile that is out of balance, you should talk to a type of dentist who is trained in orthodontia (an orthodontist). They can find out the best way to treat the problem. Braces may be all you will need. In some cases, though, the orthodontist will combine the use of braces with orthodontic headgear.

Headgear helps to move teeth to a better position and keeps them from shifting. This type of device, which is worn outside the mouth, helps to provide traction for teeth to guide and change the way the face and jaw grow.

An orthodontist will decide how long headgear you will need to wear headgear. Most often, it is worn at home in the evening or while you sleep.

Types of Orthodontic Headgear: Facebow and J-Hook

The two most common types of headgear are the facebow and the j-hook. The facebow, as the name implies, consists of a bow that fits into the braces in the back teeth and a strap that wraps either behind the neck or over the head. This is mostly used to help move the upper molars back and thus create room for crowded teeth. The facebow’s internal wire attaches to a tube on some bands inside the mouth. The external wire of the facebow attaches to a strap to help keep it from coming loose, which could cause an injury.

The j-hook type has two wires with loops on the ends. These attach to the braces. As with the facebow, a strap over the head or behind the neck holds the j-hook in place.

How to Live with Orthodontic Headgear

While wearing headgear, you should expect to visit your orthodontist about once a month. For new patients, headgear may feel strange or uncomfortable at first. Their teeth may feel tender or even a bit loose. Yet, this should stop in a few days as the mouth gets used to the gear. If it lasts more than a few days, you should tell the orthodontist.

It is very important to wear headgear as instructed by the orthodontist. Improper wear could make the treatment take more time to work.

Always take great care when you remove your headgear to avoid injury to the eyes, cheeks, lips, or face. Also, make sure that no one pulls on or grabs the headgear. Don’t wear it while you run or play contact sports. Instead, wear a protective mouth guard.

You will need to change what you eat to make sure you don’t undo the good work your gear is doing. Be sure to avoid hard, sticky, chewy, or crunchy foods during a treatment of braces and headgear.

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