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Teeth misalignment, also known as malocclusion, is a frequent condition that must be addressed early to prevent oral health issues. Although most patients complain about their malocclusions due to aesthetic problems, they can also harm their oral health. Moreover, malocclusion can lead to gum disease, caries, and TMJ disorders.
Usually, the dentist can fix these problems with traditional orthodontic treatment involving brackets. However, in some occasions, the malocclusion is so severe that it can affect the maxillary or jaw bone development and position. When this occurs, conventional orthodontic appliances are not enough, and the dentist must also use orthodontic headgear.
An orthodontic headgear is a specialized appliance used to fix severe malocclusions. It is often provided by the dentist when brackets are not enough to improve the patient's condition.
There are different types of orthodontic headgear with specific functions. Nonetheless, they are mainly used to fix class II and class III malocclusions.
They are primarily used to treat children since their bones are still growing and developing. Therefore, these appliances help to promote bone growth while also guiding it appropriately.
Furthermore, the orthodontic headgear prevents the need for orthognathic surgery. The appliance allows fixing the bone issue before it reaches maturity. When the problem is not solved during childhood, the only option is to perform surgery, as the bone can't be modified after its development is completed.
Orthodontic headgear is an appliance worn on the head and connects to the brackets. It has different elements depending on the type of headgear. However, the most common parts include the following:
● Face caps
● Chin cups
● Forehead pads
● Pita elastis
The device works by pulling the bone into a better position while the braces align the teeth.
The patient needs to wear headgear, as explained by the dentist. Depending on the type of headgear, it can have chin and forehead pads that sit in front of the face or face caps and fitting straps that sit behind the neck.
The headgear is then connected to the first molar or another tooth through hooks or the facebow.
The headgear is then adjusted to apply enough force to safely pull the bones and help them grow in a better position.
Orthodontic headgear is removable and should be used for at least 12 to 14 hours daily. Otherwise, the treatment might not be as successful as possible. Furthermore, the treatment usually takes around 1 or 2 years.
Dentists often recommend wearing the headgear through the night and, if possible, while sleeping to avoid issues at school. Nonetheless, the longer the headgear is on, the faster the treatment is.
There are 3 main types of orthodontic headgear:
● Cervical pull: It is used to correct excessive overjet. It has a strap that sits on the back of the neck.
● High pull: It can fix overjet and overbite. The strap is placed at the top and back of the head.
● Reverse pull: It helps develop the maxillary bone. It uses rubber bands that attach to the braces.