6 min read

Why Would My Child Need Orthodontic Headgear?

Seeing your child’s first set of pearly whites is such an exciting experience, and it’s interesting to witness each stage of his or her teeth development. While most parents wish for their child’s teeth to be near-perfect, dental issues such as misaligned teeth are often inevitable. While it may be a bit daunting to witness your child’s adult teeth growing in with poor alignment, today’s technology offers an effective solution through orthodontic treatment, which may include headgear.

Orthodontic headgear is a device that aids in the correction of malocclusions (misalignment of the teeth). This is most commonly used in conjunction with braces: while braces are used to align teeth, orthodontic headgear helps change the jaw's alignment, repositions certain teeth (especially molars), and corrects bite issues and other dental anomalies that might require more extensive treatment later on if left untreated.

When Is Headgear Recommended?

If your child is experiencing bite issues and/or malocclusions, it is advised that you consult an orthodontist who may explore the possibility of using this special orthodontic equipment.

After an examination, we will evaluate whether or not your child requires headgear. Smaller appliances may achieve the same results as headgear (although they may take much longer to produce the same results), and we will be more than pleased to discuss any possible alternatives with you.

However, it's crucial to keep in mind that:

  • A recommendation for headgear typically implies that it is critical in order to provide your child with the finest, healthiest smile attainable, and;
  • The headgear will be relatively small, and your child will most likely just have to wear it to sleep.

Malocclusions such as overbites and underbites may be corrected with headgear, especially in children aged 7 to 13. Since it is greatly possible to make rapid progress at a young age, headgear may be the most effective orthodontic tool to address your child’s growing orthodontic issues and prevent the need for more extensive orthodontic treatment later on in their life. It can also greatly speed up treatment time for some children.

When used appropriately, headgear can enable your child to do things such as breathe better, perform basic tasks like being able to eat and speak more easily, and smile more confidently - all of which can make a huge impact in their everyday life and long-term health and wellbeing.

What Is Headgear Like Now?

You may remember the headgear of 80s movies - or maybe you even wore it for a time. Luckily for children today, headgear is often much less bulky than what you remember. It also can often be worn just when a child is at home.

Specific types of headgear will have additional components, but headgear is most commonly made up of three main parts:

  • The facebow (or J hooks) is a u-shaped, thin metal piece that runs around the exterior of the mouth and around the face and is joined to bands on the molars from the top and bottom parts of the teeth.
  • The headcap rests on the head and is made up of straps that comfortably and securely fasten the facebow to the head.
  • A chin cup and forehead pad are used in headgear designed to correct an underbite - instead of a headcap. This type of apparatus utilizes a wire frame that runs from a forehead pad to the chin cup.
  • Attachments, such as rubber bands, elastic bands, and springs, that connect the facebow and the headcap perfectly to move the upper teeth and jaw into ideal alignment.

Meanwhile, here are the main different types of headgear according to purpose

  • Cervical Pull

    An overjet is one example of a dental malocclusion that is corrected by a cervical pull. A projecting top jaw (maxilla) and front teeth characterize an overjet. It may be difficult for people with an overjet to close their lips - which can make it difficult to swallow, chew, and speak clearly.

    In addition, cervical headgear is also utilized to treat an overbite. This dental issue occurs when the top and bottom teeth are misaligned, causing the top teeth to protrude over the bottom teeth. Straps that wrap over the neck, or cervical vertebrae, are used in cervical headgear. It can also be attached to braces inside the mouth.

  • Reverse Pull

    An underbite or underdeveloped upper jaw is corrected with this form of headgear. When lower teeth rest in front of the upper teeth it is referred to as an underbite. Rubber bands that attach to braces on the top teeth are frequently used in reverse-pull headgear.

  • High-Pull

    An overjet or overbite can also be corrected using a high-pull headgear. Straps are attached from the upper jaw to the top and back of the head.

    Children with an open bite, defined as no contact between their upper and lower front teeth, frequently wear high-pull headgear. It's also utilized to treat children with a large jaw in the back of the mouth

How Often Should Your Child Wear It?

Every child is different, so the answer will be unique to each child. The answer to this question will also vary depending on the type of problem being addressed - but in most situations, headgear is worn for 12-18 months and ideally for a minimum of 12 hours per day. Treatment can take longer if the device is not worn for at least 10 hours every day. The good news is that the hours spent wearing headgear do not usually have to be consecutive.

If the daily objective is accomplished, headgear can normally be removed for many hours at a time. We will tell you how long and how many hours each day your child should wear the appliance.

Important Points to Remember

We will be sure to provide any instructions necessary, including how to put headgear on, take it off, and how to clean it. Both you and your child will be able to learn the correct way of putting on and taking off their headgear. We will take as long as necessary to answer questions and are happy to have you call or email us if you forgot something or discovered a question once at home.

It is necessary for you and your child to carefully follow the directions. When wearing headgear, there are several pointers your child should comply with (with your supervision and cooperation, of course) for this appliance to yield optimal results:

  • Follow our specific instructions and remind your child to use his or her headgear consistently at the appropriate times of day.
  • While wearing headgear, your child should set aside playing ball games or participating in contact sports. It is helpful to find other things that your child can enjoy participating in.
  • Remind your child to remove his or her headgear when eating. It is okay to wear headgear while drinking but it may be easier for them to use a straw. (Be sure to have them rinse their mouth with water after drinking anything other than water to avoid cavities and/or staining!) Hard-to-chew foods should be avoided.
  • Remind your child to make up the hours they normally wear their headgear the next day if they don't wear it at all at night. If they skip a night without making up for the time missed, they could be adding weeks onto the time using headgear!
  • Please contact us if your child complains of acute to severe pain, or if your child's headgear starts to loosen. If they do experience normal levels of discomfort while growing used to the headgear, it may help to offer soft foods and applying a cold compress to achy parts of their face or jaw.
  • One very important reminder though: Never try to adjust your child's headgear in ways we did not show you - to avoid problems in the future. We precisely position the headgear and its components to create specific results, and certain adjustments can do more harm than good.

Here at Jungle Roots, we are focused on providing comprehensive dental care and making our valued patients feel at home. Any treatment that we recommend is ultimately to provide your child with the healthiest possible smile to last their lifetime. As we are passionate about providing the best orthodontic care your little one deserves, a vibrant and more confident smile is at hand!

At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.

Call Us - (480) 759-1119

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Location: Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Chandler, Tempe, Gilbert, Arizona