For some individuals, braces alone will not be sufficient to achieve an ideal smile and bite. There are many appliances that can be used in conjunction with braces in order to obtain the best result. One appliance that some of our patients are given to wear is called a “HEADGEAR.” Headgear comes in many different varieties, and can be used for several different reasons. In some instances, headgear is used as an orthopedic appliance. This means that it is being used to provide a favorable influence on the way the bones in your face (your jaws) are growing. Since your jaws hold your teeth, it is easy to understand why improving the jaw relationship (with headgear) can be important in the process to achieve a healthy bite and ideal smile.
Sometimes headgear is used to help the braces move the teeth more efficiently. In these cases, headgear can be thought of as a “turbo engine” for your braces. In other situations, headgear can be used to prevent some of the teeth from moving during times when the braces need to move only a few teeth in the mouth. In any event, there are some basic rules to follow that can be applied to all types of headgear.
Headgear should be worn 12 to 14 hours every day, 7 days a week. Wearing the headgear less can make it ineffective. Tooth movement is a process that will only occur when a consistent force is applied. When the force is removed, teeth will have a tendency to move back to where they started. A good way to understand this is to imagine that you are trying to push a boulder up a mountain. You can push for 4, 5, or 6 days in a row, and make good progress, but if you let go for one day, that may be just enough time for the boulder to roll back to where it started.
Headgear should not be worn while playing sports, playing with pets, running, etc. A headgear could be a potential source of injury if it becomes snagged, pushed, or pulled abruptly. Therefore, the best times to wear the headgear is while sleeping, watching television, doing homework, etc. Always bring your headgear to every appointment!