Makenzie: Braces with a Herbst Appliance

As orthodontists, we often see patients complaining of an “overbite”. They are usually referring to a condition where their upper front teeth appear to be further out than their lower teeth. This is due to a lower jaw discrepancy, where the lower jaw is positioned further back than it should be. At Orthodontic Specialists, we utilize the Herbst appliance in growing children to correct this problem. The appliance brings the underdeveloped lower jaw forward to create an ideal bite. It replaces old fashioned headgear and can help some patients avoid extractions and or jaw surgery!

Benefits of Herbst Appliance

  • Discreet and less obtrusive than headgear
  • Avoid teeth extractions
  • Prevent jaw surgery
  • Improved facial profile

A Herbst appliance includes a metal tube that connects the upper and lower jaw and is attached to your child’s molars. The adjustable tube allows your orthodontist to control the bottom jaw’s position in relation to the upper teeth. The Herbst appliance is worn for an average of 9-12 months and is typically followed by another year of braces or invisalign.

Our smile star, Makenzie, was a perfect candidate for the Herbst appliance with her braces, which allowed her to avoid extractions or jaw surgery! Her total treatment time was 28 months, which is typical for this type of bite and treatment in a growing child. Makenzie now not only has a beautiful and radiant smile, but a stable and healthy bite she can be proud of!

Commonly Asked Questions about the Herbst

How will it feel?

  • At first, your mouth will feel full and speaking may be awkward. We recommend practicing reading aloud, and normal speech will return quickly.
  • At first, slight muscle soreness or tenderness of the teeth is common. The soreness will go away the more your child continues to use the appliance. Medications taken for headaches are helpful.

Will my mouth hurt?

  • The Herbst appliance may cause some tissue irritation on the inside of the cheeks, especially during the first week. We will provide you with dental wax, which will help ease this irritation.
  • The use of warm salt water rinses 2x a day during the first week can help condition the mouth to the herbst (dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water).

What about eating?

  • Chewing will feel awkward at first. We recommend cutting foods into small pieces and sticking to softer foods for a day or two.
  • Sticky or hard foods such as gum, caramel, taffy, etc. are not allowed while the Herbst is the mouth. These foods can cause the appliance to break, requiring an emergency visit and extended treatment time.

Can it come apart?

  • Yes. If the rod slides out of the tube when opening, open wide again and guide the rod back into the tube as you close.
  • If a screw or crown comes loose, SAVE ALL PIECES and call our office so we can repair your appliance as soon as possible ?