3 Tips To Get Your Child To Wear Their Headgear

Has your child been prescribed to wear a headgear? Is your child resistant to the idea? A headgear is a common solution for children whose teeth don't align. It's most commonly used when a child has an overbite as it can push the top part of the jaw back or stunt the forward growth of the top teeth so the bottom teeth can catch up. For headgear to work correctly, it has to be worn consistently. Unfortunately, a headgear can often be uncomfortable, especially at first. Many children wear it infrequently or skip days with it, meaning they don't get the full benefit. Here are a few tips you can use to get your child to wear the headgear everyday:

Set up a reward system. One of the most effective methods is to tie the wearing of the headgear to some kind of reward. For every week that the child wears the headgear all seven days, you could give them extra allowance or allow them to purchase a special prize. You could even create a chart and hang it on your refrigerator and then place a sticker on the chart for each day that your child wears the headgear for the specified number of hours. Make the reward appealing so they'll look forward to reaching their goal.

Give them some freedom. Usually with a headgear, it doesn't matter when you wear it so long as you meet the minimum number of hours each day. Your child's orthodontist will set the number of hours. Because the headgear is worn mostly over your child's face, it can create an unusual appearance. He or she likely won't want to wear it in front of his or her friends or out in public.

Give your child the freedom to decide which part of the day he or she wants to wear it. If they don't want to wear it to school or to a family gathering, let them know that's okay, but they'll have to make up the hours during another part of the day. Your child may choose to wear their headgear when they're playing alone at home or when they're sleeping. By giving them some decision making authority with the headgear, they may be less resistant.

Explain the consequences. There are some very real and serious consequences to not wearing the headgear consistently. One is that by skipping a day here and there, your child may have to wear the headgear for more months. Explain to your child that the more they wear it, the sooner they get to lose it forever.

Also, your child only has a limited window of time for the headgear to be effective. The headgear is based on restricting growth in the jaw. By the time your child reaches the teenage years, he or she may be too old for a headgear to have results. If the alignment problem isn't fixed by then, the only treatment available may be to break your child's jaw and then put it back together. Obviously, that would likely be a far more painful and uncomfortable option than wearing headgear. Explain that the headgear is necessary to prevent more painful treatments later.

For more information, talk to your orthodontist. He or she may be able to offer more tips to help your child keep their headgear on.