is typically used in growing patients to correct overbites by
holding back the growth of the upper jaw, allowing the lower
jaw to catch up. Headgear needs to be worn approximately 10-14
hrs to be effective in correcting the overbite, usually
anywhere from 6 -18 months depending on the severity of the
overbite and how much a patient is growing.
is also used in adults, but for a different reason. A typical
scenario is a case where some teeth are extracted, and front
teeth are being retracted (pulled backward). When extraction
spaces are being closed, the teeth behind the extraction space
slide forward and the teeth in front of the space slide
backward. In some situations, to maintain the bite, the
orthodontist will not want the back teeth to come forward. The
headgear serves to hold them back (maintain anchorage).
Orthodontists will want those patients to wear the headgear as
much as they can. Realistically for most adults this might
only be 8-10 hours per day, but the more the better; even 24
hours would be acceptable.
of teeth when chewing, or when the teeth touch, is typical.
Adults usually feel the soreness 12-24 hours later, but
younger patients tend to react sooner, (e.g., 2-6 hours).
soreness/tenderness may persist for several days. Usually, the
second and third days are the most severe, with reduction in
soreness over the next couple of days. Ibuprofen and soft diet
are helpful. There is
also a device called a "bite wafer," which is a soft
U-shaped piece of rubber which patients can gently squeeze
their teeth into. The bite wafer keeps the blood circulating
around the teeth and lessens the time teeth might be sore.
soreness from the headgear and elastics will attenuate and
disappear after a few days, but it may persist for as long as
a couple of weeks. Very few patients complain of having sore
teeth essentially the whole time. Once the soreness is gone,
it is not uncommon for soreness to flare up again, usually
just involving a few teeth. Then the soreness disappears
again. Soreness tends to leapfrog among different teeth at
different times as a result of tooth movement.
key to the fastest relief of tenderness is to continue the
wear headgear/elastics even though the teeth are sore. If you
stop wearing the headgear or elastics, your teeth will feel
better temporarily, but as soon as you resume wearing your
headgear, the symptoms will start all over again.
Vogt, DDS, MSD; grew up in Hong Kong and eventually moved to
Canada, where he attended Western Ontario University. From
there, he went on to finish at the top of his class at the
University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, concluding
his studies there with a Masterís degree from the graduate
Vogt's office is in San Mateo, California. His website is