Headgear

Child wearing orthodontic headgear.

At Dr. Ross Taddeo Orthodontics, we’re dedicated to helping patients in the East Orlando area achieve the healthy and beautiful smiles they deserve. Many orthodontic devices are available to correct common teeth alignment issues. We work with each individual to provide a personalized treatment plan to obtain the best results. As part of the process, we want you to understand our full range of treatment options. Orthodontic headgear is just one of those options, but it’s incredibly effective at correcting misaligned bites, uneven jaw alignment and similar problems.

There are several different types of orthodontic headgear, each designed to work best in a specific situation. We will design a treatment program to address your individual needs, and select the most appropriate type of headgear; we will also instruct you on its use and care. It's important for you to follow instructions carefully so that, working together, we can achieve the best results from your treatment.

Types of Headgear

One common type of headgear is called the cervical pull type. This appliance has a U- shaped wire that attaches to the bands on your back teeth, and a strap that is worn behind your neck. A similar device is the high-pull headgear, which also has a wire connecting to the teeth, plus a strap that goes behind and over the head.

Overjet and Underbite.

These types of headgear are typically used to correct an excessive horizontal overbite (technically called an “overjet”) in children, by holding back the growth of the upper jaw. They can also be used for adults who need help maintaining a proper bite and correct tooth spacing after tooth extraction. Generally, these types of headgear are designed to be worn from 12-14 hours each day.

Another type of headgear is the reverse-pull or “facemask” type. This appliance is generally used to correct an underbite. It gently pulls the upper jaw forward (instead of back), which allows it to catch up with the lower jaw. It consists of two pads — one resting on the forehead, the other on the chin — connected by a vertical frame. Elastics or wires, which connect from the frame to the braces, exert the pulling force. It may be necessary to wear this appliance from 14-16 hours daily.

Why Use Orthodontic Headgear?

Most teeth correction treatments use traditional braces or Invisalign to encourage teeth to shift into their proper positions. In some cases, these methods aren’t quite enough to treat a misaligned bite. When the upper and lower jaws are more unevenly aligned than typical treatments can fix, headgear can help redirect their growth and guide them into their appropriate alignment.

Headgear is generally used in more extensive cases requiring overbite or underbite correction. Orthodontists can prescribe several common types:

  • Cervical pull, consisting of a U-shaped wire attaching to the bands on a patient’s back teeth and a strap worn behind the neck
  • High-pull headgear, which also uses a wire connecting to your teeth with a strap placed behind and over the head
  • Facemask or reverse-pull headgear, designed with two pads connected by a vertical frame to pull your upper jaw forward

Cervical-pull and high-pull headgear are used when overbite correction is required. Conversely, orthodontists usually prescribe facemask headgear for underbite correction. These methods depend on the force applied from outside the mouth to push or pull upper or lower jaws into position.

Making Headgear Work Depends on You

Whichever type of headgear you're wearing, there are some important things you should know. Probably the most essential one is this: In order for it to be effective, you must carefully follow instructions about wearing your headgear — that means putting it on each day for the time specified. If you wear headgear at night and you miss one night, you must make up the time the following day — otherwise, everything you've accomplished in the previous seven days of wear could be wiped out!

It's normal to feel some discomfort as you get used to wearing orthodontic headgear. Fortunately, if you wear it faithfully, the discomfort generally goes away in a few days. Your orthodontist may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever like Ibuprofen, and/or a soft diet, to help you adjust.

From time to time you may also experience some soreness when chewing, or even a little looseness in the first molars. This is normal, and it shows the appliance is working. However, if you have unusual pain, notice that the anchor band on your first molar (the one the headgear attaches to) has come loose, or find that the headgear suddenly seems not to fit correctly, it could signal a problem. In that case, contact us right away.

Maintain Your Headgear — And Your Oral Health

To keep your orthodontic headgear working as it should — and to maintain your overall oral health — it's important that you follow our instructions about care and cleaning. It's also important that you learn to put headgear on and take it off properly and safely. Remember to bring it with you every time you have an appointment at our office — but leave it behind when you're playing sports, or even horsing around in the living room!

Wearing orthodontic headgear may seem like a big adjustment — and nobody would deny that it takes some getting used to. But remember that you're part of a team, which includes our office, your general dentist... and you! When everyone works together, it's possible to achieve your goal: a beautiful smile that you'll have for your whole lifetime.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Dr. Ross Taddeo Orthodontics delivers high-quality orthodontic care in a fun and friendly office environment. Ready to learn more about your treatment options? Use our appointment request form to book a free consultation or call our office at (407) 482-3700.

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Dr. Ross Taddeo Orthodontics

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