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When Does Headgear Become Necessary?

Headgear

As a parent, it’s up to you to make sure your child gets the orthodontic care they need. For some children, braces are the only treatment they need. Other children may need headgear in addition to braces. So what makes the difference? When is it necessary for your child to use headgear?

Correcting Malocclusions in Children

Some children have very misaligned teeth. Improper tooth alignment, also known as malocclusions, sometimes needs headgear to be corrected. Headgear helps slow down the jawbone’s growth. That can make it easier for the teeth to move into their correct positions, especially in cases like overbites or underbites.

Addressing Problems Braces Can’t Correct Alone

Braces can sometimes handle malocclusions on their own, but that isn’t always the case. If your child has a more severe malocclusion, braces alone may not be enough to fix the problem. In that case, your child’s orthodontist may have your child use headgear. Braces work by applying pressure to the teeth. Over time, that pressure causes the teeth to shift into their desired location. Headgear adds force to the upper and lower jaw, making it possible to correct more serious malocclusions. In addition to correcting overbites and underbites, headgear can also correct large gaps between the teeth. 

Decreasing Treatment Time

The severity of a malocclusion impacts how long it takes to treat. Some problems can take 2-3 years to correct if only braces are used. Using headgear can significantly shorten the time it takes to correct malocclusions. If used correctly, it could take as much as a year off of the treatment time. Not only does using headgear properly decrease treatment time, but how long the headgear has to be worn each day could also decrease as treatment progresses. Don’t make that decision on your own though. Talk with the orthodontist to see if it’s okay to decrease how long the headgear is worn each day and by how much.

When braces alone aren’t enough, orthodontists use headgear to move the teeth to their correct position. Some children may feel a little self-conscious about wearing their headgear around others. Most headgear doesn’t have to be worn 24/7 though, so they can probably limit its use to when they are in the privacy of their own home. Just make sure they wear it as prescribed by the orthodontist. It can’t do its job unless it’s worn.

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