Dental Care for Kids: Finding the Right Dentist

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Your Guide to Using Braces With Orthodontic Headgear

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If your child has an improper bite, crooked teeth, or spacing issues within their mouth, braces are an effective way to resolve these problems. However, if there are severe bite issues, your orthodontist may suggest that your child use orthodontic headgear in conjunction with their braces.

Bite issues occur when the patient closes their mouth and the teeth come together incorrectly or don't come together at all. This can cause the teeth to break or potentially damage the mouth tissue. 

Orthodontic headgear typically consists of a cap that rests on the head, straps to hold the apparatus in place, and additional components that attach to the teeth and face as necessary. Keep reading for more information. 

The Case for Orthodontic Headgear

Orthodontic headgear isn't often the first line of treatment for patients with bite problems. While braces are effective at treating minor overbites, more severe cases may require additional treatment.

Using orthodontic headgear can prevent the need for jaw surgery, which is another treatment for severe bite problems. Since orthodontic headgear is often, but not always, used in conjunction with braces, it's possible to correct multiple dental problems at once. 

Patients Suited for Orthodontic Headgear

Orthodontic headgear is only an option if the patient's jaw is still growing. As the jaw grows, the headgear uses pressure to push the jaw into place. The orthodontist will periodically adjust the headgear to ensure that it's continuing to move the jaw into place. 

Patients may experience a small amount of discomfort when the headgear is adjusted or when they first start wearing the headgear. The discomfort usually goes away after a couple of days.

Tips for Using Headgear with Braces

Individuals using orthodontic headgear with braces should follow their orthodontist's dietary recommendations. Most patients remove their headgear when it's time to eat, but their braces will remain in place.

Usually, it's advised they avoid sticky foods, foods that are hard to chew, hard foods that can damage the braces, and foods prone to getting such between the brackets.

For orthodontic headgear to function correctly, it's necessary for the patient to wear it for the advised amount of time. This is usually anywhere from 12-16 hours per day. The more the patient wears the headgear, the better their results and the sooner they can take it off for good. Patients should avoid completely skipping their headgear for even a day as this can quickly undo any progress with their bite issues. 

Patients shouldn't wear their headgear when participating in contact sports or rough play. They should either remove the headgear or substitute less intense activities. 

For more information, contact a local dentist group, such as Poulson Orthodontics, to learn more.