The idea of needing headgear strikes fear into the heart of many adults who are considering orthodontic treatment. They may remember a childhood friend who had to use the device and was seen as "nerdy" or made fun of as a result. The truth is, however, that headgear is necessary and beneficial for some patients.
What is headgear?
It's an appliance that's attached to metal braces to aid in the correction of severe bite problems. Headgear works by slowing down the growth of the upper jaw, while letting the lower one continue to move freely. If worn for a significant period of time, it can make a major difference in alignment. Headgear typically needs to be worn 10 to 14 hours a day for six to 18 months.
Do I need this type of device?
Headgear appliances are usually designed for children who are still growing, so they are seldom used for adults. When they are involved in adult treatment, their effectiveness is usually limited to preventing teeth from moving into different spaces after an extraction.
What are my other options if I have a severe misalignment?
No doubt you probably breathed a sigh of relief upon learning that most adults aren't treated with headgear, but where does that leave you if you need more intense treatment? Your orthodontist will develop a plan for you, which may involve jaw surgery along with orthodontic braces. Fortunately, there are many discreet options like clear braces and invisible aligners that can help you maintain a professional look.