Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Herbst Appliance

This appliance is not a new appliance. It has been around in the world of orthodontics for about 50 years. It gained popularity in the last 20 years as the focus of orthodontic treatment shifted to individualization of patient care to address specific issues, and not use the same treatment techniques for everyone.

The Herbst appliance is very effective in correcting large overbites due to small lower jaws in patients that are growing. It is used to enhance the growth of the lower jaw in a forward direction. The lower jaw is held forward by a pair of tubes and rods working together similar to a shock absorber to connect the upper and lower jaws.

The Herbst appliance corrects “overbites” by holding the lower jaw in a forward position, which in turn is what encourages lower jaw to accomplish its maximum genetic growth potential, helping it to grow and catch up with the upper jaw. The growth center of the lower jaw is near the joint area and the Herbst appliance works “remodeling” this area.

By utilizing the Herbst appliance while a young patient is growing, we can maximize their growth potential and possibly eliminate the need for extraction of permanent teeth or a jaw advancement surgery to fix the bite in the future.

The Herbst appliance is cemented on the back molars and is in place and active 24 hours a day. It generally stays in place for 12 months along with front braces. Once it is removed, braces are added to the side teeth for an approximately 12-18 months to complete tooth alignment.