If the orthodontist recently recommended that you wear orthodontic headgear, you probably are feeling bitterly disappointed about now. Nobody wants to wear orthodontic headgear, more commonly referred to as braces headgear. Braces headgear is sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes painful, and always unattractive. Perhaps you are lucky and only have to wear the orthodontic headgear few hours a day, or only at night. You may not think of yourself as fortunate at all, but having braces headgear just at night is really not that bad once you’re used to it. Just think, it could be worse-you could be wearing the braces headgear 24/7!
This is so unfair, why is the orthodontist making me wear braces headgear?!
Why did the orthodontist want to put you through all this torture anyhow? What is the point of wearing orthodontic headgear if you already have braces? Isn’t being a brace-face bad enough as it is without adding a big pile of metal on top of it all? Doesn’t the orthodontist know he’s putting you through social suicide?
Believe it or not, the orthodontist has prescribed orthodontic headgear because he wants to help you. Braces headgear is used to treat something called an anteposterior discrepancy. An anteposterior discrepancy is basically a fancy name for a condition in which the person’s upper teeth are not aligned evenly with their lower teeth-the person has a severe overbite or underbite, perhaps so severe that he or she has difficulty eating or speaking correctly. The orthodontist will leave a mild overbite or underbite alone, but will usually prescribe orthodontic headgear for a more severe overbite.
A severe overbite or underbite cannot be treated by braces alone. Braces are great for straightening teeth within an aligned jaw, but will do nothing to fix the jaw itself. Fixing an overbite or underbite is a job best left to braces headgear.
How does orthodontic headgear work?
The orthodontist uses tiny hooks to attach the orthodontic headgear to the braces. Then, the orthodontist will further anchor the braces headgear with a strap or head-cap anchor, attached to the back of the head or neck.
Occasionally, braces headgear will be used to create additional space in the mouth for adult teeth to grow, rather than for correcting an overbite or underbite. In this case, the orthodontist attaches the orthodontic headgear d to the molar teeth. The braces headgear will then slowly pull the molar teeth backwards into the mouth, leaving extra space for new teeth to grow.
Orthodontic headgear care
It is important to take good care of your braces headgear. The more you wear the braces headgear and the better you take care of it, the sooner the orthodontist will agree to have the orthodontic headgear off.
The most important thing is to wear the braces headgear as often as the orthodontist tells you to wear it. This may be anywhere from nighttime only or all the way up to 24 hours a day! Fortunately, few people are ordered by the orthodontist to wear orthodontic headgear all day long-most will be told to have it on 12-16 hours a day, which means you’ll wear the braces headgear a few hours in the evening or early morning, and while you sleep. Don’t think you can get away with not wearing the braces headgear and then cramming in your time with the braces headgear right before the visit with the orthodontist. This doesn’t work and it won’t fool the orthodontist. Not wearing your orthodontic headgear can slow down the movement of your jaw or even cause new problems. This could lead to you being assigned to wear your braces headgear during the day or for several extra months to fix the damage.
Beyond simply wearing it, there is little care involved with orthodontic headgear. Care for your teeth will remain the same as it already was with braces alone-don’t eat laffy taffy and other sticky foods, and brush and floss your teeth every day. Be sure to call or visit the orthodontist if you have any problems with your orthodontic headgear.
You may think that braces headgear is the worst thing to happen to you since…well, ever, but trust me, you’ll live through it. When it comes time for senior pictures and you no longer have a crooked jaw, you may even be thankful that you had to go through the nightmare of orthodontic headgear.
- By Gretta Gust | AC