Has anyone's child ever had a Herbst appliance?

mahatmacat1October 12, 2006

I'm posting this on HD Conversations and here too--we don't know anyone IRL who has had one of these (except for a girl who was in one of DD's acting classes, but that was about a year before this). Our DD got one yesterday and I think she's feeling pretty down about it and I'd love for her to be able to talk with someone who has had it/has it now...

If you reply, I can e-mail you through the site (e-mail to me doesn't get to me, for some reason) and maybe your child or you could share some insights/favorite foods etc. with my DD?

She's just 9, btw.


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Oh well, I knew it wasn't that common but we did know one person in the area, and know of another...

Just pureed some gourmet food store fresh clam chowder for my dentally challenged gourmet girl. We'll take it from there :)

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 10:56PM
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A Herbst appliance is such a wonderful ortho appliance for someone with a receeding jaw/chin. Good for you for getting this done, I think a lot of folks leave a receding chin alone, hoping that the jawline will fill out later. I wasn't willing to take that chance, especially with a boy, they look best with a strong jawline. I'm not talking about neanderthal, but just a nice profile (my husband has a "weak" chin, but still a great looking man). Plus, I wanted his teeth to mesh properly. After his Herbst was put in, my son was in pain and drooled for about the first day or so. He didn't feel like eating and I gave him Motrin to relieve the discomfort. It is a lot of metal in his mouth. Also, talking was a challenge, plus he played the trumpet. So lots of things going on.

I can't recommend any specific foods, but will just say how important it is for your girl to keep her mouth very clean with all of that metal in it. I've had four out of my seven in ortho treatment over the past 10 years (including one who had an expander at three years old) and I can't emphasize enough the importance of a clean mouth and keeping those many appointments like clockwork.

What a good mom you are! And it isn't cheap, is it!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 9:55AM
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Oh cup, I almost started crying at "what a good mom you are"...last night, night 2 of the H.A. saga, I'd thought she was doing relatively well, but at around 3 am she came down in tears saying "I just want someone to talk to"...I went up and gave her some tylenol (didn't want to make her have to eat to have the ibuprofen), got in bed with her, and she cried to me about how much she *hates* this appliance, how it hurts her mouth and jaws, she can't talk, etc...Then after she finally got to sleep (thank you tylenol), I had to comfort her several times when she had nightmares that would make her start crying in her sleep :( :( :(. She's *not* normally like this at all. I can imagine how it feels completely imprisoning...needless to say I slept hardly at all after 3 and I didn't exactly feel like a good mom. :(

How old is your son? How long ago did he have the appliance? Would he be willing to share some of his feelings about it, esp. as time went on? Did it get easier for him? Please tell me he was finally able to play the trumpet. *Can't* imagine that happening with that device--he must be a real trouper. She has to wear it for about a year; was that his experience?

She's good about cleaning. They had scary pics at the orthodontist's office.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 1:06PM
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I'm planning to go through the Vita-Mix recipe book and make all the soups she wants...and I agree about the Herbst. It was universally recommended by all the orthos we interviewed, to give you an idea of her situation (also from my DH's line, not mine :)). It's *amazing* the difference already--my friends (moms of her friends) are commenting that she looks like a completely different little girl (in a supportive way, not critical, and not to her face of course). Did your son have a wonderful outcome once it was removed?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 1:12PM
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Oh my gosh, chiefneil, I'm so sorry to hear of what you had to go through and now have to live with. It is definitely not just a cosmetic issue, already with her; she had increasing trouble enunciating words (which is a problem for a little girl who loves acting) and the orthos all said it absolutely needed to be done. I have spent some time thinking how lucky we are to live in an area where this kind of treatment is available, and that we can afford it out of pocket (well, *kind* of afford it :)) -- I thought of all the kids/adults in economically oppressed countries where doctors will go and do long-needed cleft palate surgeries, or do dental treatments that have been unavailable and led to decades of suffering...

To hear that you went through all this willingly as an adult really testifies to how serious the stakes are. I will definitely share your post with her. Thank you.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 2:23PM
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my son has had a Herbst since May. The first week or so was hard for him and he barely ate anything as he is such a picky eater to begin with...he drooled a lot and had trouble closing his mouth to chew. He had to learn how to talk again (though he still mumbles a lot...I think *that* is just teen boy talk...LOL))

Now he has no problems with it at all...it is tough to keep clean--he's on a 3 month cleaning schedule at our dentist anyway since he got his braces 1.5 years ago.

At this point, you don't even know that it is there...I think the ortho said 1 year for him...but who knows...give your daughter a hug for me!


    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 7:54PM
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I have never heard of a Herbst appliance before today. But it looks like a long slow journey for your DD. Sometimes as parents we have to make calls that are not popular but in the long run are chosen for the benefit of our darling children.
Remind her often that you love her and want the best for her and that is why she is having this work done. Tell her that if you could have it on FOR her you would. Nothing beats lots of snuggles and mummy kisses.
Send her a hug from 'downunder', I remember how kind you were when my DD lost her kitten and I hope this offers you some support too.

They mention soft food- I am wondering if a coddled egg would be tolerable for her- eggs have alot of nutrition. I also thought you might consider one of those meal replacement shakes- they are vitamin enriched and would be easy to swallow with not many 'bits' to get stuck in her appliance.

(((((((((HUGS))))))))) to you both.
Keep us posted as to how she is going.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 9:06PM
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Bless her little heart. Two of mine had Herbsts, and I wish they'd been available to treat overbites when I went through orthodontia. MUCH better alternative to extracting top teeth and pulling the whole arch back.

Please tell babyfly that pecan's oldest children had herbsts and got used to them after awhile. Their appliances were like pistons, and when they learned they could open their mouths r-e-a-l-l-y wide and disengage them, then they would sit quietly in class with the top pistons pointing down (Dracula) or the lower pistons pointing up (Tusker) out of their mouths until the teacher noticed and everyone laughed.

Once, DivaD1 yawned an enormous yawn in mass and her appliance caught, propping her mouth open. Of course we were in the second row, and the altar boys and priest could see straight down her gullet. She was panicked and as I had what seemed like all my fingers in her mouth we heard a voice from the back of the church, "Have her yawn again!" I yawned so she would yawn, and it came unstuck.

DivaD1 and DS have beautiful smiles, and they would not be the pretty kids they are today if not for the Herbst.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 10:16PM
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Flyleft: We've had computer crashes, sorry I've been away for a couple of days. Seems longer!


Propped mouth at Church! What a hilarious story. I'm still laughing. And egads! I did not know that those Herbst side bars weren't attached inside the tube. Thank God, all we didn't need was a lacerated lip or cheek in a nine year old.

My son has a fabulous smile, but that's partially in his jaw bone and genes. He hated his retainer, didn't wear it much, but he still has a good bite (some of his lower teeth are crowded now). My DD#1's teeth had a lot of memory to them, so in spite of a lot of ortho, her mouth did what it wanted to in the end, because the connective tissue between the teeth, gums and bones was "stubborn." She even did a gum transplant before her expansion at age 8. the donor gum came from somewhere else in her mouth. When my ship comes in I want to get her Invisiline, which is a braces-less technology to straighten teeth. My ortho is using retainers to keep DD#2's bottom teeth straight as her mouth grows.

It's all so complex and expensive. I really think that if your child does not need an expander or a Herbst (and therefore no bone or structural modification), if you can wait as long as 13 or 14, then you just do one treatment and call it a day. When you start younger, very often you will have two phases, which costs a lot of money. It's important that you have a doctor that can see emerging issues as they arise. For example, children's lips need to close a certain way or as they grow they have to slightly strain to close their mouths, or else they have a pouty look. We also used a lot of chin cups so that our smiles wouldn't be to "tall" you shouldn't see the entire tooth and gumline when you smile, or your smile looks rather gum-y. I've also seen children "over expanded" and their faces seem out of proportion with a too big smile. It's very hard to judge progress with all of that gear in the child's mouth. It's very important to take any problem to the orthodontist, he's always measuring the new growth, so you should take about how much expansion growth is going to be planned for. And with a herbst, you want a more delicate jawline in a young lady than a strong jaw. Just my 2.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 11:54PM
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Good morning :)

namabafo, that's *great* news...I read it to DD (or "babyfly", as she likes to call herself now, thanks to pecan :)) and she replied "I forgot it was there for a little while today too!" It's wonderful for her to hear about someone else's experiences while she's going through it, as chiefneil said, and especially since your son is *currently* going through it. Come on May! :)

koala, thanks so much for your koala hug :) (I saw a pic of a little girl hugging a real koala--have you done that?) We've been doing meal replacement shakes a lot so far (mixed with the soups/chowders); yesterday in the evening she was apparently happily engaged with a chocolate cupcake (we don't do those often, but I figured if anything could entice her to make her way back to food :)) And she cleans VERY well, I'm relieved to say. Of course, it's all still new, but I think she's got the fear of ugly cavities imprinted in her brain now from pics on the ortho's wall.

pecan, I haven't read your story to her but I sure am going to! You wicked thing, yawning to make her yawn again! A sense of humor going through this is a great tool in a mom's toolbox...Anna was actually playing around with her friends on Thursday making like a caveman; she can add the prehistoric animals to her repertoire too :)

cup, I wish we could wait and do it all in one treatment. Babyfly's actually had to have a retainer already because of her complete 100% overbite--her front bottom teeth were carving holes in the *roof* of her mouth! The retainer made it so the back teeth had room to grow more and keep the bottom teeth more separated (may not make sense, but it was necessary to alleviate immediate suffering and prevent even worse growth patterns).

She's got a double whammy mouth-buck teeth from me and a small lower jaw from her Dad...all orthos interviewed said this had to happen at 9 for a year, and *then* braces at around 12 (or maybe 13?) for a year. It's *way* beyond a cosmetic issue, as I'd said before.

You know who has an overbraced look to her mouth? Sheryl Crow. We were watching her on a show about horses and I recognized her mouth from several I remembered from HS -- girls got their teeth *really* straightened and suddenly their upper lips looked too short...ykwim? I used before/after pics of patients as one criterion when I was choosing, as well as recommendations from friends and our own experience. We have some friends whose opinion we respect who used this ortho and had marvelous results (one boy, one girl). I feel instinctively I can trust him. You can rest assured that this seasoned contractor-interviewer-girl used all the lessons learned from remodeling to decide which ortho "contractor" to choose :)

So today it seems she is already feeling better; hasn't asked for Advil today, is singing as she goes around the house...we may be seeing the beginning of normalization, and your all's virtual support group has been a real blessing in this process :)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 2:52PM
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The two-step orthodontic process takes advantage of growth spurts to assist the mechanics of the procedure. A Herbst would not work on someone who had finished growing- pulling that jaw out to the proper position in a child who is growing and laying down bone allows bone to fill in the 'pulled-out' area. That's a very rough way of explaining it- sorry.

This is so important in children with severe overbites (DS) because without support from the lower teeth, the upper front teeth protruding way out there are at risk.

If one of the pistons separates from the bracket, of course you will call your ortho immediately. DivaD1 had one break the first day of a 2 week vacation with her grandparents- we were told to have her disengage the opposite piston and tuck all pieces up between her cheek and gum until she returned, so she didn't have pull on only one side. Lots of moving parts to these things- we seemed to break them often...

Good 'contractor' analogy. That's spot-on. I'm sure you'll be as involved in this process as you were with your kitchen- the combination of form, function, support and aesthetics is fascinating.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 3:25PM
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Flyleft- so glad she is feeling a little improved and even eating a cupcake. I had a couple of new food ideas- pureed fruits, egg custards, yoghurt and porridge.

Told my DD about your DD and she sends her a hug too. She thought your DD must be feeling very sore and maybe a bit sad. Luckily, this will only last a short time while she adjusts.

As for holding a koala... they may look cute but it would actually be more like holding a feral cat at times- although some are trained to be nice! We often see kangaroos locally, especially when we bushwalk- once we even had one jump into our yard then bound down the street.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 9:56AM
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pecan, if I'm not *more* involved with this process than I was with the kitchen, there's something dreadfully wrong with my priorities! :) And yes to all your description/analysis of the orthodontic situation...

koala--I hadn't thought of eggs because we don't eat them very often, but thanks to you she ate two hardboiled egg whites last night, some garden-grown tomatoes cut up, a cut up plum, and a few other tasty real-life things...I think she's had enough yogurt to satisfy even *her* taste for a while (she's a big yogurt girl :)). She had cheerios this morning but she can't have her beloved granola thing she makes because the rolled-oats really get caught in her wires more than the ground-up cheerios, which kind of melt after a while.

I think we've rounded the bend, thank goodness. Thank babykoala :) for her hug-I'll pass it on to babyfly :)

The video we saw, then, must have been a trained koala/raised in captivity--LOL about holding a feral cat--yeow! Cool about the kangaroos. They look like rebalanced deer to me sometimes :)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 12:54PM
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I would actually recommend other methods of corrective orthodontics. After having this appliance for a while as a child I developed severe TMJ which will stick with me for the rest of my life. It's very painful and makes eating and other things rather difficult and uncomfortable at times. I have no scientific evidence or studies, I'm not a scientist or expert, just someone who experienced it first hand. My brother had the same experience. Take it with a grain of salt.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 10:10PM
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Chiefniel, I went through the same as you for a severe cross bite when an adult. Lost the feeling in my lower area of face, but learned to live with it. Carol Burnette had the same surgery when I did. Sadly if you watch her speak, she lost feeling only on one side and it can be seen at times.

Now that I'm older, still have a couple dozen wires (they didn't use plates then) in my jaws, cannot have implants. The ole teeth continue to require more than any of us expect.

How I wish this appliance was available as a child. Wonders compared to what was available 20 years ago. Hope she does really well and know that she will be one happy girl with results and all being over.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 8:38AM
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My 13 year old granddaughter will be wearing one of these Herbst appliances very soon, but it's not intended to correct an overbite or underbite. She had been experiencing headaches for about the past two years, and for over a year her jaw has been making a loud clicking sound as she opens and closes her mouth causing her pain each time. She was finally taken to a dentist who then referred her to an orthodontist. They thought it may be TMJ, so the doctor ordered an MRI of her jaw area. It was not TMJ. The right side of her jaw isn't even connected, and the clicking noises are coming from left side of her jaw . The orthodontist said he has never seen a case so sever as this in a child before...only saw cases like this with adults who have been in a traumatic auto accident, or who have had a forceful blow to their face. Her mom doesn't recall any such things ever happening as she was growing up. But I do remember when she had a root canal and cap done at the age of 3 or 4 years old. I distinctly recall how she cried in pain for hours afterwards and I couldn't find a way to comfort her. I even drove her back to the dental office where it was performed that same day and they insisted nothing was wrong with her. The orthodontist who just recently requested the MRI be done, said she has a smaller mouth than most others. I have a gut feeling, and from after talking with others about this, that there's a possibility that when they did the root canal procedure it may have partially dislocated her jaw and that her jaw never went back into the normal position as she was growing all these years. The Orthodontist does not guarantee that wearing the Herbst will even solve her problems in the end, which is heart wrenching to even think of. It's even more heartbreaking to know the pain she is going to have to endure wearing this appliance. But worse, if it doesn't work, they said surgery is the next option. I've heard that with surgery nerves will be cut and loss of feeling in the chin area occurs causing the person to always drool. That would be so traumatic for any teenager to have to deal with. This is so difficult to even imagine what might happen in the long run. I just pray that wearing the Herbst will completely correct her condition. Please, if there is anyone else who has had this similar condition, please let me know how your results were with wearing this appliance.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 12:45AM
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I had one when I was about 15 or 16 (I'm 30 now). Like everything, after a few days she will become used to it. I used to like to rock my jaw back and forth with it like a swing. I don't remember eating anything different than normal, but she does need to be careful and not open her mouth too wide because the rods will come apart. Unless they've changed anything in the last 15 years, the top rod inserts into the lower rod and if you open your mouth real big - like a yawn or eating a big hamburger - it will slide right out. I was told that I could just open my mouth wide again and put the rods back together since it just slides inside, but I could never do that. It happened twice in the time I wore it and I don't remember how long it was. Six months to a year maybe? Both times it happened when I yawned, but after that I was careful to keep my closed as much as I could. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 3:11PM
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DS had a Herbst appliance, and kewlbri is correct on how to put them back together. His only came apart a few times.

DD2 did not have an overbite, but did have a recessed chin/lower jaw and ended up having surgery to correct when she was a HS sophomore. She also had surgeries on both sides for TMJ, wired shut for several weeks after each surgery. She still sometimes complains of jaw pain.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 11:07AM
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My son got a Herbst appliance last summer and did well with it. My daughter just got her's yesterday, and being the opposite of her brother is really struggleing. Reading all the comments above helped reassure me last night that it will all be ok and she will adjust and it will be for the best. Thanks all.

One note, Herbst appliances now have telescoping rods so they no longer come apart like they use to. Guess that is good and bad. It might have been fun to show DD how to become a walrus or dracula, but good too to not deal with more drama when she yawns and comes apart. Guess it is all good. :-)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 7:58PM
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Wow, is this conversation old! Just checking in after a several year hiatus. Both my son and daughter, 13 and 11, just got one last month. They were in discomfort for several days, but are doing fine now. They don't like that they can't open their mouths all the way. My daughter was hit in the cheek yesterday by a soccer ball. I need to see if there's some type of protective gear recommended for it.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 8:42AM
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