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Headgear is often used to correct an excessive overbite. This is done by placing pressure against the upper teeth and jaw, which would hold the teeth in position or help move them into better positions. The severity of the problem determines the length of time headgear needs to be worn. The key to success with your headgear appliance is consistency. Headgear must be worn a certain number of hours per day, and if not, it must be made up the following day.

Headgear should never be worn while playing sports and should also be removed while eating or brushing your teeth.


One of the most common problems orthodontists treat is the discrepancy that occurs when the upper teeth protrude beyond the lower. Ordinarily, when we see a patient with the upper teeth protruding, we tend to think that the upper jaw and teeth are too far forward; but, more often than not, this condition is due to a small lower jaw that is further back than it should be. With these patients, we would like to encourage the lower jaw to catch up in growth, and braces like the Herbst appliance help this happen.

Even though the Herbst appliance prevents the lower jaw from moving backward, opening and closing movement still occur easily, and patients do not have any problems learning to chew their food with their lower jaw in this new position.

As with all kinds of braces, patients with Herbst appliances need to be careful about what they eat. For instance, cold foods such as ice slushes, Popsicles and ice will freeze the cement and make the brace loosen. Sticky foods such as caramels, bubble gum and candy suckers will pull the brace away from the teeth. Hard foods like crisp vegetables and hard candies will bend and loosen the Herbst appliance, too. So stay away from these foods during your orthodontic treatment.

Your Herbst appliance will be checked and adjusted at your appointments. If, sometimes between appointments, you develop some sore areas on the inside of your cheeks, please do not try to adjust the appliance yourself. Call for an appointment so that the necessary adjustments can be made.

Lip Bumpers

We like to avoid pulling teeth as often as possible, so we use lip bumpers on our patients who need to create more room for their crowded teeth. The lip bumper is a wire on the lower jaw that extends from one molar to another and keeps lips and cheeks from touching your teeth. When you move your mouth or speak, your lips and cheeks push on the bumper, and the bumper applies pressure to the teeth. This pressure pushes the molars back, creating more space for overcrowded teeth.

If you have a lip bumper, please remember to leave it in while eating, but do not eat hard or sticky foods. Proper, thorough brushing should remove any food that gets stuck in your lip bumper.

lowerLower Lingual Arch

A Lower Lingual Arch acts as a space maintainer to keep the molars from drifting forward, and prevent them from blocking the space where permanent teeth will eventually erupt. This appliance is commonly used in cases of premature loss of baby tooth or when the lower teeth of a growing child are slightly crowded and no permanent teeth are extracted to correct the problem.

You should expect soreness the first day or two, and it may hurt to chew. We recommend a soft diet initially. You may take Advil or Tylenol to relieve the pain. Avoid sticky or hard foods, and please monitor how many foods you eat that are high in sugar.

Brushing and flossing daily is very important. Be sure to clean around the bands that are connected to the molars and the wire on the tongue side. This will prevent the formation of cavities or infection of the gums.

The duration of wear varies. We will monitor the eruption of new teeth and make adjustments. Generally, the Lower Lingual Arch is removed following the eruption of all the permanent teeth.

Palatal Expander

Attached to the upper molars through bonding or by cemented bands, the Rapid Palatal Expander is an orthodontic device used to create a wider space in the upper jaw. It is typically used when the upper jaw is too narrow for the lower jaw or when the upper teeth are crowded or blocked out of the dental arch.

When patients are still growing, their connective tissue between the left and right halves of their upper jaw is very responsive to expansion. By simply activating the expander through turning a screw in the center of the palatal expander, with a special key we provide, gradual outward pressure is placed on the left and right halves of the upper jaw. This pressure causes an increased amount of bone to grow between the right and left halves of the jaw, ultimately resulting in an increased width.

reverse_headgearReverse Pull Headgear

In some cases where an underbite is present, we may recommend using reverse headgear (face mask) as part of the treatment plan. This appliance is designed to fix the discrepancy between your upper and lower jaws by moving the upper jaw forward to correct the malocclusion.

For the results to be successful, patient compliance is of the utmost importance. It may take several days to become accustomed to the appliance. With practice, it will become easier to place and remove the reverse headgear. We will determine the length of time you should wear your headgear, but it is generally 10-14 hours per day, which can include wearing while you sleep. You should not wear your headgear while participating in sporting activities.

Sometimes your chin may get irritated from the headgear. If this happens, you should always keep the area clean and often change the insert in the chin cup. If the skin becomes very dry, the use of moisturizing cream twice a day can be helpful. If your jaw joints are extremely sore or you cannot open and close your mouth without difficulty, stop wearing the appliance and contact us for further instructions as we may need to fit you with a different appliance. Also, if your headgear breaks or is bent, call us so we can fit you in with a repair appointment so your treatment will not be delayed.

thumbThumb/Finger Appliance

Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children usually cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to your dentist.

One solution to thumb sucking is an appliance called a "fixed palatal crib." This appliance is put on the child's upper teeth by an orthodontist. It’s placed behind on the upper teeth on the roof of the mouth. The crib consists of semicircular stainless steel wires that are fastened to molars using steel bands. The stainless steel wires fit behind the child's upper front teeth, and they are barely visible. The crib usually stops the habit of thumb sucking within the first day of use.


In our continuous effort to provide the best in orthodontic treatment for our patients, we are proud to offer PROPEL®, an advanced orthodontic technique that works with your braces or aligners to fast track your orthodontic treatment. This exciting technology allows us to get most patients finished in about half the usual time. While each patient varies, many patients can now have their orthodontic treatment completed in just months instead of years!

PROPEL® works with the your own biology to stimulate the bone surrounding your teeth; helping the teeth to move faster and more predictably into their ideal position so we can reveal your new smile faster and in fewer visits to our office.

We provide PROPEL for Invisalign and braces, offering complimentary consultations to all. If you would like to accelerate your orthodontic treatment today, then ask us about PROPEL!