Is Orthodontic Headgear Still Used Today?

We live in a time of tooth-colored dental fillings, natural-looking crowns, and invisible braces. If someone wants to keep their orthodontic needs private, it's easier than ever before. Generations past did not have it so easy. Braces were loud and bright — sometimes on purpose. You may have even worn headgear back in the day. 

Orthodontic headgear can correct both under- and overbites, explained Lobbe Family Orthodontics. It is meant to be worn a set number of hours each day (anywhere from 12 to 22 hours) for up to 18 months. And while you may think of headgear as a very large contraption, some types have little more external structure than a curved wire extending in front of the patient's mouth. Headgear is most beneficial when worn in childhood because this is when the jaw is still growing, according to Lobbe Family Orthodontics.

But these days, do orthodontists still advise wearing headgear? Let's find out.

Is headgear around today?

"Due to innovations in braces and other treatments, headgear isn't used as often as it once was," Healthline confirmed. But that doesn't mean headgear has vanished. In 2013, the International Association of Dental Research released a study about the "perception of the decline in use of headgear." Researchers gathered information from 948 orthodontists, only 60% of whom said they still use headgear at all in their practice. The other 40% said that they had stopped using headgear entirely, with 47% of those orthodontists worried about how patients will view them for using older techniques. Another 22% of the group who don't use headgear stated that they'd learned more modern techniques during their training. Of the orthodontists who still do use headgear, 24% said that they did so primarily because it was the technique they learned during their own education.

However, the researchers concluded, "The majority of orthodontists still feel that [headgear] is a viable treatment option and overall they 'perceive' that its use has stayed relatively the same among other orthodontists in the same area." That's right, headgear is still useful and in use today.