Herbst Orthodontic Appliance
Aside from the obvious benefits of orthodontic treatment, like increased confidence, straight smile, and ease of hygiene, another benefit is not so obvious: improved jaw alignment and function. If your child has an overbite, simple treatment with braces may not correct the problem. The Herbst appliance, in conjunction with braces, is used to help the lower jaw develop in a forward direction. This leads to an ideal bite. Left untreated, an improper bite may threaten the long-term health of your child's teeth, gums, and jaw, which may require jaw surgery to correct in the future.
The Herbst appliance, in many cases, has replaced the dreaded Headgear appliance, which proved to be challenging for some patients to wear and socially unacceptable. The Herbst appliance is glued to your child's molars, so its constantly working. It contains a metal arm that connects the upper and lower jaw on both sides. By adjusting the arms, Dr. Morris, your orthodontist, is able to control the jaw's position in relation to the upper teeth. Typical treatment time with a Herbst appliance is 12 months, though this may vary depending on your child's unique needs.
Another benefit the Herbst has over headgear and other appliances is aesthetics. Headgear is bulky and worn on the outside of the mouth. Other appliances are more difficult to talk with and to maintain great oral hygiene. The Herbst appliance is a much more discreet option: it may be visible when your child laughs or opens wide, but allows for a much quicker return to normal life than other appliances.
Adjusting to a Herbst Appliance
Muscle Tenderness – When your child first gets his or her Herbst appliance, there may be some overall muscle tenderness and soreness of the teeth. As your child's mouth adapts to the appliance, the soreness should fade in approximately one week.
Tissue Irritation – Because the Herbst appliance is metal, it may cause some slight tissue irritation, especially on the lower gums. It will take time for your child's mouth to adapt. Until it does, dental wax can help to ease the irritation.
Diet – Eating softer food will help with any muscle soreness, especially after the first week or two after getting the appliance. It is also important to eliminate sticky foods, like candy and gum, or hard, crunchy food, which can damage the appliance and lengthen your child’s time in treatment.
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