One of the most common orthodontic problems we treat is a discrepancy that occurs when the upper teeth protrude beyond the lower teeth – commonly called an “overbite.” A common misconception is that this is caused by the upper jaw and teeth being too far forward. Actually, it is most often due to the bottom jaw being smaller and further back than it should be. The most appropriate and efficient way of correcting this problem is using braces and a Herbst appliance.
At many other orthodontic offices, patients that have large overbites are often treated with braces and a “headgear.” At Harris Orthodontics, we do not commonly use headgears – not because they do not work, but rather most patients do not desire this treatment option. The Herbst appliance is a very successful and predictable appliance. It is also very different from headgear. The Herbst appliance is cemented on the teeth and works for 24 hours a day. When the Herbst appliance is first cemented, it feels awkward. However, our patients easily get accustomed to the appliance after a short period of time.
The Herbst appliance is used to redirect and harness the natural facial growth that occurs during puberty growth. Therefore, treatment with the Herbst appliance is carefully timed to coincide with the patient’s puberty growth. For girls, puberty growth usually begins at approximately 10 ½ years of age. Boys begin puberty approximately two years later at 12 ½ years of age. Timing of each patient’s growth spurt may vary from the average age, therefore, treatment may begin shortly before or after these averages. However, if orthodontic treatment is delayed past the puberty growth spurt, our orthodontic treatment options are limited and overbite correction may require jaw surgery or extraction of permanent teeth.