Seeking an alternative to headgear treatment is probably the smartest decision a potential orthodontic patient could make! Headgears have been in use since the early part of the 20th Century. They continue to be recommended to push upper front teeth back and to retard the forward growth of the upper jaw. Their primary use is in what orthodontists call Class II malocclusions, but lay people call “buck teeth”. In 1981 it was published in the refereed literature of the profession that upper front teeth rarely stick out in Class II malocclusions. As a matter of fact they are more likely too far BACK than too far forward in the face.
There are many popular alternatives to headgear. Among them are the Herbst appliance, the Twin Block appliance, Bionators, Orthopedic Correctors, MARA’s, Jasper Jumper, Forsus, etc. Perhaps the newest is the idea of using a Temporary Anchorage Device (TAD) which is a small screw that is inserted in the bone to provide a stable place from which to pull backwards. The headgear is designed to retract (pull back) the front teeth, and all these approaches have one degree or another of “headgear effect”.
Retraction of front teeth flies in the face of the research showing that the teeth do not protrude in the first place! Such retractive treatment only serves to accentuate the nose and can result in a very convex face which is not well balanced. Aside from the esthetics is the fact that such retraction can reduce the tongue space and may produce snoring, and ultimately, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). With untreated OSA carrying a penalty of 20% reduction in life expectancy it just might be a lifesaving decision to seek an alternative to headgears/retraction.
Is there a way to develop the upper and lower jaws forward to more ideal facial balance? The good news is that there is, and it is not experimental. Orthotropics® has been shown to develop the upper and lower jaws forward with some dramatic airway improvements having been documented and published in the refereed literature.