Are you worried about your child’s overbite? Do you want to improve his/her smile with a fuller jawline and sculpted face? Well, there are several ways orthodontists may lead you to ensure a better bite for your child; Herbst appliance is one of those. Yes, it improves the way our upper jaw and lower jaw fit together while attaching to back molars on both sides.
Your child may see better results if the Herbst appliance is used along with the braces. However, going through the procedure and wearing the appliance for the next 12 or 18 months can be tiresome for your kid. That’s why you must have a complete overview of the surgery before you opt for it.
How does a Herbst appliance work?
Before you know how a Herbst appliance works, you must understand its components. Well, it is made of premium quality surgical-grade stainless steel. A Herbst appliance has a total number of 4 components- steel bands, tube, telescoping rod, and screw. Two frameworks of the appliance are attached to the first permanent molars present at the upper jawline and lower jawline on both of the sides of our mouth. Two telescoping rods connect these appliances on each side and control the wide bite of our mouth.
When the Herbst appliance is worn, it optimizes the jaw growth of your child. Yes, as we mentioned, it applies a forward force on our lower jaw and an upward-and-back force on the upper jaw. In this way, Herbst appliances correct an overbite by one or two years. But you have to make sure that your child attains each appointment to the orthodontist as the doctor may keep adding ‘shims’ to increase the pressure on the jaws gradually.
Note: If your kid needs to expand the jaws, an expansion mechanism can be incorporated to the Herbst appliance too.
Is a Herbst appliance Painful?
No, wearing Herbst appliances is not that painful. Your child may feel like a mouthful at first, but once he/she gets used to it, that feeling will subside quickly. Difficulties in chewing or slurred speech can also be an issue at the beginning, but it will eventually go away with time.
However, a Herbst appliance may not cause any severe pain, but it can sometimes lead to muscle tension or tenderness. Check out the below list to know the solutions to these problems during the adjustment period.
- Muscle tenderness: If your child’s jaw muscles become tender and sore, consider giving him/her some hot beverages. Also, ask him/her to take pain reliever medicines with compounds like- acetaminophen or ibuprofen. The soreness may remain for the first one or two days. At this time, consider providing food like mashed potatoes, yogurt, smoothies, cheese, and avoid any hard or chewable food.
- Tissue irritation: Some patients feel irritation on the cheeks and gums because of the metal parts of the Herbst appliance. It also occurs during the interim and heals rapidly when rinsed with lukewarm salt (1/2 teaspoon) water (8-10 ounces) regularly.
- Slurred speech & Swallowing issue: In case your child’s speech becomes slurred, don’t worry at all. It’s not long-lasting. Initially, patients tend to get excessive saliva after getting the Herbst appliance done. This causes issues in speech and swallowing as well. But just like the above issues, it will also be resolved once your kid forms a habit of wearing the appliance.
Who needs a Herbst appliance?
Whoever is dealing with an overbite and aged between 9 to 14 years can opt for a Herbst appliance. This is done on younger patients because their jaw remains at the developing stage in this growing age, and giving it a proper shape becomes easier. Apart from that, addressing jaw issues at an early age has its own advantages.
Yes, your child gets a firm teeth alignment along with improved jaw functions even before they get conscious about their profile look. Herbst appliances also reduce the higher rate of cavities, which frequently occur because of the big bite. Gum disease, TMJ disease, tooth loss are also often treated with a Herbst appliance.
What can you not eat with a Herbst appliance?
Growing a proper food habit is a big concern if your kid is undergoing the treatment. Avoid any kind of hard food that can break the appliance or pull it apart. Alongside this, avoid chewy, sticky, and crunchy food like gum, candy, popcorn, or ice. If you’re giving fruits to your child, chop them into thin slices and prepare a bowl.
Ensure a better bite!
Getting the Herbst appliance done can be easy but maintaining it in the mouth is indeed a tedious job. Your kid may find it hard to brush or floss the teeth; even opening the mouth wide is also a matter of concern. But your orthodontist will always be in touch, so fret not! Due to mishandling, the screws may come out on rare occasions, just save the part in that case and visit your doctor. That’s all! Ensure a better bite for your child now!