The Advantages of the Herbst Fixed Appliance

The Advantages of the Herbst Fixed Appliance
Posted on 03/17/2015

As an orthodontist, Dr Jerry often sees patients complaining of an “overbite.” They are usually referring to a condition where their upper front teeth appear to be out further than their lower teeth. This condition can be due to a small lower jaw that is positioned further back than where it should be. Dr. Jerry has corrected many overbites using the Herbst appliance. This is a fixed orthodontic appliance designed to bring an underdeveloped lower jaw forward to match the normally positioned upper jaw. This appliance works by preventing the lower jaw from moving backwards while allowing the patient to open and close their mouth easily. 

The Herbst appliance is best used on growing patients. It consists of steel bands that fit on back teeth on both the top and bottom jaws. Attached to the upper molar bands are two metal cylinders or sleeves. Attached to the lower molar bands are two metal bars running parallel to the lower back teeth and two metal rods that slide into the sleeves hanging down from the upper molar bands. The appliance can also feature an upper expander with a screw located in the middle of the palate.

The Herbst appliance is used in conjunction with regular braces on the upper and lower front teeth. The typical treatment time is one year after which the patient continues with a full set of braces for another year or more until treatment is complete. 

It does take the patient some time to adjust to wearing the Herbst appliance. It is not uncommon for the patient to feel uncomfortable at first with the new awkward feeling of the jaw position. Additionally, sore areas may develop on the inside of the cheeks. If this does occur, it's important for the patient not to try to adjust the appliance on their own. Instead, call us for an appointment so we can make the necessary adjustments.  For most patients, getting used to the appliance is not a major issue as adapting to it comes rather easily. For instance, when the appliance is first fitted, the mouth will feel unusually full and speaking will be awkward. However, by simply reading aloud, ordinary speech will return quickly. It is also normal to notice more saliva than usual but this will decrease as well as the patient becomes accustomed to wearing the appliance.

The benefits the patient will receive from wearing the Herbst appliance far outweighs the discomfort he/she initially feels. Once the treatment is complete, the patient can enjoy having a great bite, improved facial profile, and an amazing smile without headgear, tooth extraction, or jaw surgery being necessary.

If you have any questions about the Herbst appliance or any other of the appliances we offer, give us a call today!