What Is a Herbst Appliance?

It can be overwhelming to keep up with all of the advancements and new devices in the field of orthodontics. It seems as each year passes, orthodontic professionals are discovering new ways to help patients correct the issues with their smiles, and for patients, it can be a lot to take in. One of the treatment options that is prescribed to qualifying patients is a Herbst appliance. 

About the Herbst Appliance

Remember headgear? If you didn’t have it yourself as a child, you may have known someone who did. Headgear is used to primarily correct bite issues as a result of problems with the lower jaw. Nowadays, headgear can sometimes be replaced by what is referred to as a Herbst appliance

Although the Herbst appliance has been around for quite some time – it was first introduced in the early 1900s – it has since evolved into a tool orthodontists turn to more frequently today. Since there can be issues with headgear, mainly difficulty with patient compliance, the Herbst appliance can alleviate some of the problems. This appliance has many benefits, including:

  • Ease of wear
  • More patient compliance
  • Better range of motion (as opposed to headgear)
  • Minimal issues with speech

When using the Herbst appliance, orthodontists have reported better compliance among patients, and being that this device is worn at all times, patient success rate has increased. Not only is the Herbst appliance a more comfortable way to correct bite issues, it’s also easier to wear and get used to, making it a go-to for orthodontists around the country.

The Herbst Appliance and the Patient

Children are typically the ideal candidates for the Herbst appliance. Since children (aged 9-14) are still developing, it’s best to address jaw and bite issues at this point before growth stops and the jaw is set. Waiting makes it much more difficult and it takes more time to correct jaw abnormalities.

What to Expect with the Herbst Appliance

When the Herbst appliance is placed in the patient’s mouth, it gets to work, correcting the patient’s bite. It is attached to the molars by a series of bands. Then, telescoping arms are attached to the outer region of the upper and lower bands, ensuring the device is permanently installed in the mouth. 

It won’t take long to get used to the appliance. Normally, patients start feeling accustomed to the device in about a week. Patients sometimes feel a bit different when they eat and some report slight discomfort at first. Patients can expect to wear this particular appliance for a period of nine to 12 months, and although it is durable and relatively low maintenance, proper oral hygiene is imperative. Orthodontists recommend the daily use of mouthwash, proper brushing and flossing techniques, and avoiding sticky foods altogether.

A Revolution in Orthodontic Treatment

The Herbst appliance was developed over time to alleviate the problems associated with headgear, making for a more comfortable experience for the patient. Speak with your orthodontist to see if a Herbst appliance might be right for your child’s situation, and remember, the success of their treatment depends on the right treatment plan.