Adults And Headgear: What It Is Used For And Why Other Treatments For Bite Problems Are Better

Dentist Articles

Although headgear may call up unpleasant images of Darla from Finding Nemo, it is much more common than you might think. Children often need to wear headgear in order to correct severe under or overbites. However, you may not have seen many adults wearing headgear; it's actually quite difficult to correct an overbite after the jaws and teeth have fully set. So, when will headgear work for adults and what are the other options for correcting adult bite problems? 

The Importance Of Growth

The reason why headgear is such an effective treatment for children is because it can actually redirect the growth of bones in the mouth and jaw, as well as straighten the teeth. Because the bones still have growth left, the headgear needs to be worn for the majority of the day, every day, but the needed correction happens much more quickly in children. Without this growth factor, the shape of bones are very difficult to change, so headgear is rarely used for adult patients. 

When Headgear Works For Adults

Even though adults are far less likely to need headgear for standard tooth straightening and bite correction, they are still susceptible to accidents that damage the teeth. Your orthodontist will still prescribe headgear in order to preserve the natural order of your teeth if your suffer to trauma to your oral health. For example, if you lose your front four top teeth, head gear might be used to prevent the back teeth from tilting forward as your mouth is prepared for dental implants or dentures. The dentist will want to preserve your original bite to make the false teeth to fit properly and feel as natural as possible. The headgear also prevents further loosening of teeth that have survived the trauma. 

Other Options For Bite Resolution

Depending on the severity of your bite problem, there are still several options available to you. Your orthodontist may suggest:

  • braces. Braces help to straighten the teeth, which can often contribute to an over or underbite if they are crooked or crowded. By pulling the teeth into their proper places, some bite problems can be resolved. More severe bite problems can also use elastics to help bring the top and bottom teeth closer together.
  • surgery. If the jaw is the only issue, you will need surgery to move the bones back into place. Usually, you will have braces before surgery, to make sure all the teeth are straight so that the surgery is 100% correct.
  • tooth extraction. Sometimes, the appearance of an overbite or underbite can be fixed by removing some of the adult molars, and then using braces to shift the remaining teeth further back along the gums. 
  • springs on the braces. These springs, known as the forsus appliance, are used mostly in teens, but they can be effective for adults too. They are used for overbites that cannot be corrected by elastics. They slowly move the jaw back overtime. The orthodontist may tighten the springs as braces are worn, and even if they are not totally effective, they can reduce the need for surgery or make the surgical procedure less invasive. Usually, the appliance is worn for 6-9 months. 

So, if you've been avoiding braces for your bite problems because you fear the dreaded headgear, don't worry. Headgear is not often effective for adults, and so your orthodontist will explore other options with you. However, if your orthodontist does prescribe headgear, it's usually because he or she is trying to make space in your mouth or keep your teeth where they should be. Don't live with an overbite. Talk to an orthodontist about methods to improve the alignment of your teeth. 


29 April 2015