What is Orthodontic Headgear?
Orthodontic headgear is one of the orthodontic appliances, which is attached to the braces, and help in correcting the bite problems. It hold backs the growth of upper jaw, creating enough room for the lower jaw to grow, which is called anteroposterior discrepancy.
Face bows or metal hooks are used to attach the headgear to the braces, which is anchored at the neck or back of the head with head-caps or straps. Sometimes elastic bands are also used to apply some pressure to hold back the growth of the upper teeth.
Forms of orthodontic headgear:
Face-bow: It has a bow, which is attached to the braces. The strap is anchored behind the back of the neck or the head to get the desired amount of pressure for holding back the growth of the teeth.
‘J’ Hook: It has two free wires with loops at the end, which are attached to the braces. The free wires are attached to the strap, which is strapped over the head or behind the neck for correct pressure for the growth stoppage.
Some considerations for those who are contemplating on orthodontic headgear
- One should wear the appliance for approximately 12-16 hours a day, or as per the instructions given by the orthodontist.
- The patient might encounter some discomfort with the headgear during the initial days; the molar teeth might tend to become lose and even tender. However, this discomfort is a temporary phenomenon and the swelling and tenderness gradually disappear, as one gets used to the new orthodontic headgear treatment.
- The mask should be worn all the time, as instructed. Taking it off at night might result in improper correction and the patient might have to continue to wear it for longer periods than what it is being prescribed initially.
- It is very important that a person wearing the headgear should try and maintain a log of how many hours he wears it on during the day and night, and a ‘score card’ could be used.
- The headgear should not be worn while playing any rough sport. This could result in a serious injury.
- The headgear should be removed while the straps have not been unfastened, and should be lifted over the face to take it off. If the right instructions are not followed, and if it’s taken off carelessly, one may injure cheeks, lips, eyes, and face.
- Proper precautions should be taken. It should not be pulled or grabbed by anybody, siblings or friends, by mistake. Sometimes the outcome could be very severe.
- Proper instructions on cleaning and taking care of the headgear are given. These instructions should be carefully followed for the proper functioning of the headgear.
- It should be carried with the patient to every appointment with the dentist.
At first, the headgear might look a little strange and it also gives an uncomfortable feeling for the user. Nevertheless, a little discomfort and embarrassment are worth the beautiful smile one would wear down the future. There would be no hesitation when one would have to say ‘cheese.’