Everyone knows what traditional braces look like. But in some cases, an orthodontist may recommend that a patient wear a different, more complex device as part of their treatment. This device is known as orthodontic headgear.

When we speak of orthodontic “headgear,” we’re referring to an appliance that is worn externally, that is, outside of the mouth. The appliance is then braced by different parts of the head, neck, or chin. This type of anchorage provides more force than can be achieved with traditional braces, allowing for the teeth to be moved a greater distance while properly supporting the growth of facial and jawbones.

What types of headgear might you be prescribed at the Marconi Dental Group?

Various Types of Headgear

Orthodontic headgear varies in size, shape, and purpose.

Cervical pull:

Description: A cervical pull appliance is made up of a U-shaped wire that attaches to your back teeth, along with a strap that you wear behind your neck. The appliance works by slowing down upper jaw growth, resulting in a more symmetric bite.

Usage: This type of headgear is typically prescribed to help correct an excessive horizontal overbite, or “overjet.” It may also be used after a tooth extraction, to help maintain a proper bite along with appropriate tooth spacing.

Daily wear time: 12-14 hours

High pull:

Description: This type of appliance works principally the same as a cervical pull device; however, in a high pull device, the strap is placed behind the head instead of the neck.

Usage: Like cervical pull headgear, high pull headgear is used to is used to help correct an excessive horizontal overbite, or to help maintain a proper bite and appropriate tooth spacing after a tooth extraction.

Daily wear time: 12-14 hours

Reverse pull (also known as a “facemask”):

Description: Reverse pull headgear is made up of two small pads that are mounted to a vertical frame. The upper pad is designed to lay on the forehead while the lower pad rests on the chin. A series of elastics or wires are connected to the frame; these exert a steady pulling force on the upper jaw.

Usage: Your orthodontist may prescribe reverse pull headgear to correct an underbite.

Daily wear time: 14-16 hours

What to Expect

It’s normal to experience discomfort for the first few days of wearing one of these appliances. You may even feel that your molars are loosening a bit. Don’t worry—this is a sign that the headgear is actually working.

But remember: Your device can only accomplish its purpose if you wear it as prescribed, and for the full time specified. Neglecting to wear an appliance for just one day could ruin the progress achieved over the previous seven days!

If you’re anxious about wearing orthodontic headgear, remember: the temporary discomfort you experience now is a small price to pay for the result—a healthy mouth and bone structure, and a beautiful smile to match.