Phase 1 orthodontics typically starts around the ages of six to nine. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends bringing children in for a bite evaluation no later than their seventh birthday. At this point, their bites should be developed enough to identify potential problems, and the soft structures of their facial structures are easier to…
Pediatric Orthodontist – Why Does My Child Have to Wear Headgear for Their Teeth?
Children who suffer from misaligned teeth and visit an orthodontist to help correct the problem may be fitted with dental headgear. There can be several reasons why this may be recommended, such as for the correction of protruding front teeth or irregular jaw growth. Parents who are told a child will require headgear may wonder how necessary this dental equipment is. As it happens, headgear can be an important component when it comes to repairing and realigning the teeth and jaw of a growing child.
About dental headgear
Orthodontic headgear is typically recommended for children who may already be wearing braces but have other dental issues that affect the shape and positioning of the teeth and jaw. The unit consists of several different pieces:
- The face bow
- An elastic strap
- The neck pad
These three implements connect to each other via tubes that are set into a patient’s mouth so they can be removed for brushing or flossing.
The wire bows fit both inside and outside the mouth and are then connected to the neck strap, which is usually padded for comfort. Children who wear this headgear usually do so to correct overbites, underbites or crossbites, all of which involve some form of misalignment of the teeth or jaws. Most young patients who wear the unit may be directed to so as often as possible, even overnight. Results are typically more favorable when the headgear is utilized up to 12 hours per day.
The benefits of headgear
While the prospect of wearing headgear may be distressing for young patients, an orthodontist may be able to assuage fears by explaining its benefits. For example, patients who have severe jaw alignment issues that prevent them from chewing or speaking properly may benefit from wearing headgear, as it can move teeth into a more correct position and prevent an uneven growth of the upper or lower jaw.
If more than one dental problem exists, headgear can be an effective solution to correcting them at the same time. This device may also prevent further misalignment as the jaw grows, preventing deformation that could cause problems as children grow into adults.
The necessity of headgear
Parents of children who have been recommended the use of dental or bracing headgear will likely have many questions, such as whether the appliance is truly necessary and if it might be painful. While young orthodontic patients may experience a phase of adjustment during the first several weeks of wearing headgear, regular usage and wearing the device as directed can help reduce any sensations of discomfort. Parents have the right to decline the use of headgear on their children, but dental issues that are not corrected in childhood may cause more troublesome dental issues later on in life.
The use of dental headgear is generally not as common as it once was because of advances in technology for oral care. However, an orthodontist may still recommend the device for any child with teeth or jaw misalignment.
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