The other day one of our parents asked me why we don't use headgear anymore. We got into a fun conversation about how many of our junior high school friends had metal sticking out of their mouths and straps wrapped around their necks. We call that 'The Dark Ages of Orthodontics.' Braces have come a long way since then and one of our favorite innovations is the Carriere Distalizer.
In the good old days, when a patient had a large overbite, the Orthodontist would prescribe a metal bow with an adjustable neck strap which the patient would wear to move his upper molars toward the back of his mouth. This contraption, although effective, was bulky and embarrassing to be seen in! Who wanted to go to a sleep over and take their head gear with them? Imagine having to wear it to school!
Fortunately for this young generation, a brilliant Orthodontist by the name of Luis Carriere developed a system using a small bar, bonded to the upper molar and canine and powered by elastic wear, to move those molars back. Voila! The external headgear has been replaced with an internal one!
We have had great success with this new method mainly due to patient compliance. It's so much easier to put an elastic band on than to strap yourself into an uncomfortable headgear. The best part of all is how quickly it works when the patient is really conscientious about elastic wear.
Headgear isn't totally obsolete just yet. We do have a type of headgear that we use for a less common problem. Some patients have an under bite, which is a condition where the lower jaw has grown faster than the upper one. This leaves the lower teeth on the outside of the upper teeth- not a good situation! When we need to treat this condition in a younger child, Dr Eric prescribes a headgear that fits the front of the face and uses elastic bands to bring the upper jaw forward. It's not fun to wear, but it sure does a good job correcting that type of bite.