Appliance Care

Herbst vs. Headgear

The main difference between a Herbst appliance and headgear is that the Herbst appliance is securely fastened to the patient’s teeth, while headgear is removable. To be truly effective, headgear must be worn between 12 and 16 hours per day, which often poses a problem with patients who don’t like to keep it on that long. Since the Herbst appliance is not removable, you won’t need to keep track of how many hours per day you or your child wears it.

Herbst Appliance Adjusting to a Herbst Appliance

Muscle Tenderness

When your child first gets his or her Herbst appliance, there may be some overall muscle tenderness and soreness of the teeth. As your child’s mouth adapts to the appliance, the soreness should fade.

Tissue Irritation

Because the Herbst appliance is metal, it may cause some slight tissue irritation, especially on the lower gums. It will take time for your child’s mouth to adapt. Until it does, dental wax can help to ease the irritation.


Eating softer food will help with any muscle soreness, especially after the first week or two after getting the appliance. It is also important to eliminate sticky foods, like candy and gum, or hard, crunchy food, which can damage the appliance and lengthen treatment time.

Special Care

Be sure to thoroughly clean your Herbst appliance. A water pik is very helpful. If the rod slides out of the tube while opening, open wide again and guide the rod back into the tube as you close. Shifting your lower jaw side to side will loosen or break the appliance. If a screw or crown comes loose, save all pieces and call our office prior to your appointment date so we can repair your appliance.

With excessive breakage of appliances may result in additional charges and will likely delay your treatment time. Please contact us if you have any questions.