There are many benefits to implementing orthodontic treatment. It leads to increased confidence and minimizes the chances of tooth decay, by making oral hygiene much easier to obtain. They also help improve overall jaw function. Preventative care can help limit the overall time of future orthodontic treatment. A severe overbite may not be resolved through the use of braces alone. The Herbst appliance tends to be used in conjunction with braces and is used to help the lower jaw develop in a forward direction. This helps lead to an ideal bite. If a poor bite is left untreated, it can threaten the long-term health of a child’s gums, teeth, and jaw.
A Herbst appliance is attached to a child’s molars. It involves a metal tube that helps to connect the upper and lower jaw. Adjusting the tube allows the orthodontist to have control over the jaw’s position in relation to the upper teeth. The average treatment time for a Herbst appliance is 12 months, though this varies depending on each child, their circumstances, and the necessary treatment.
Herbst or Headgear?
Headgear is a removable appliance, but a Herbst appliance is securely adhered to the child’s teeth. In order to be effective, headgear has to be worn between 12 and 16 hours a day. This often causes a problem when patients don’t like to keep it on that long. Failure to wear an appliance for the recommended duration can result in prolonged, ineffective treatment. The Herbst appliance is not removable, which prevents the need to keep track of how often your child wears it.
Headgear is often bulky. It is made out of metal hooks or a facebow, as well as straps or a head cap. These are used to anchor the headgear to the back of the head or the neck. Herbst appliances are far more discreet. It may be visible when your child speaks, but is far less noticeable than headgear.
Adjusting to a Herbst Appliance
When your child first obtains their Herbst appliance, there will likely be some overall muscle tenderness, as well as soreness of the teeth. As their mouth adjusts to wearing the Herbst device, the soreness will lessen.
The Herbst appliance is made of metal, which may lead to slight tissue irritation. This occurs most often on the lower gums. Again, it takes some time for a child’s mouth to adjust to the use of a Herbst appliance. Until it adjusts, dental wax can be applied over the appliance to help ease any irritation.
There will likely be muscle soreness after obtaining the Herbst appliance. Eating softer food will help prevent exacerbation of the soreness, especially when done the first few weeks after eating the appliance. Additionally, it will be important to eliminate sticky foods from the child’s diet, such as candy and gum. Hard or crunch foods should also be avoided. These foods can damage the appliance, as well as lengthen overall treatment time.