One of the most common problems orthodontists treat is the discrepancy that occurs when the upper teeth protrude beyond the lower. Ordinarily, when we see a patient with upper teeth protruding, we tend to think that the upper jaw and teeth are too far forward. More often than not, however, this condition is due to a small lower jaw that is positioned further back than it should be. With these patients, we want to encourage the lower jaw to catch up in growth, and appliances like the Herbst appliance help this happen.
Even though the Herbst appliance prevents the lower jaw from moving backward, opening and closing movements can still easily occur, and patients typically do not have any problems learning to chew their food with their lower jaw in this new position.
As with all kinds of braces, patients with Herbst appliances need to be careful about what they eat. For instance, chewing on ice will crack the cement and loosen the appliance. Sticky foods such as caramels, bubble gum and candy suckers will pull the appliance away from teeth. Hard candies will bend and loosen the Herbst appliance, too. So stay away from these foods during your orthodontic treatment.
Patients can participate in sports wearing a Herbst appliance. We have many patients playing football, soccer, softball, baseball and in the band wearing a Herbst.