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Herbst Appliance for Orthodontics and Braces

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Herbst Orthodontic Appliance Guide

You may have come across different orthodontic appliances like elastics, retainers, and braces. But not too many people know what a functional appliance like the Herbst appliance is.

You see, functional appliances are built for the transmission of gentle, consistent force with the objective of influencing how the teeth and jaws grow and develop. This is meant to correct bite problems in children and give them a better facial profile. 

Typically, the child will have to use the herbst appliance for about 12 months but your orthodontist will make that decision based on their unique needs. The Herbst orthodontic appliance will be fixed to the molars of your child. It comes with a connecting metal tube to link the lower jaw to the upper jaw. The appliance gives your orthodontist the ability to control the position of the jaw in connection with the upper teeth. 

How the Herbst Appliance works

The upper jaw developing more than the lower jaw could lead to the protrusion of the top teeth. Kids with this condition may be ridiculed or teased by their peers. Apart from the emotional trauma, they have a higher risk of suffering from traumatic injuries since the upper front teeth have no protection.

This is where the Herbst orthodontic appliance comes in. Similar to how elastic bands work, this appliance can help to push the upper teeth backward. This herbst device comes with two small metal tubes that have a banded connection that is attached to the left and right-sided upper molars. 

You’ll also find two small roads on the bottom connected to the bands and attached to the lower teeth. These rods are designed to slide into the bands above, thereby creating a gentle force meant to push the lower jaw forward. 

The Herbst orthodontic appliance helps to slow upper jaw development because this part of the mouth tends to grow down and forward. The device also promotes lower jaw growth as long as there is growth potential in that jaw. This usually depends on genetics as not everyone has that capability. For those who have the genetic capacity for lower jaw growth, the device moves the lower bottom teeth forward while pushing the upper teeth backward. 

What to expect and how to adjust to a Herbst Appliance

Once the herbst appliance is placed at first, the patient will feel it on their cheeks and tongue. This could lead to soft tissue sensitivity and speech obstruction, both of which disappear after a while. 

Tissue irritation

The material used to make the herbst device appliance is metal and there could be some irritation of the mouth tissue. Your child’s mouth will eventually adapt but you can use dental wax to provide some relief.

Muscle tenderness

Herbst appliance pain may ensue the first time your child gets the device. Soreness of the teeth and muscle tenderness are common but this should fade with increased adaptation. Some over-the-counter pain relief drugs can help to remedy the discomfort.


You’ll also have to help your child adapt to the herbst device in terms of speaking normally. Get them to read aloud for a couple of hours as a daily routine. Don’t forget to inform the teachers at school about your child’s treatment.


You’ll need to watch your child’s diet at this point as softer food can help. They need to stay away from sticky food such as gum and candy. Eliminating crunchy, hard foods is necessary because this can affect the appliance and increase the amount of time they’ll have to wear the herbst device.

Can adults use the Herbst appliance?

Herbst orthodontic appliance guide

More and more patients continue to suffer dental problems and the reason is clear. Many people today take their dental health for granted and fail to maintain a regular dental hygiene routine. To treat the conditions that arise, a wide range of orthodontic appliances are now available. Apart from treating dental conditions, adults know the professional and social benefits that come from investing in a smile. 

This appliance is mostly used on younger adults, especially after they take off their braces. The Herbst orthodontic form of treatment in young adults usually occurs during the post-pubertal stage

How to keep the Herbst Appliance clean

Parents and children will have to be more conscious about oral hygiene maintenance while using the device. Always keep to your appointments with the dentist regarding teeth cleaning but it is even more important to keep the mouth in good condition in-between visits. Regular brushing and rinsing with a fluoride toothpaste boosts enamel strength and prevents issues like cavities

I also recommend using a water flosser after meals to get rid of particles and debris. The water floating device will also help you reach those spaces that are hard to clean. 

Also, check out this cute orthodontic care gift box that contains all of the best tools to take care of your oral hygiene while you are in braces or an herbst appliance.

braces gift box

Herbst appliance problems – What to do

Should any part of the appliance become loose, waste no time in reporting it. Herbst appliance problems can occur and your orthodontist needs to know about this. Also, should you notice any irritation of lips and cheeks soft tissues, or if you notice a bad smell or taste, ensure that you report those as well. Your orthodontist may have to change the device and getting a replacement might require a small fee. Teach your child about the proper way to wear and handle the appliance too.

Herbst appliance alternatives 

Apart from the Herbst braces appliance, there are other orthodontic solutions for similar conditions. But you will have to work with your orthodontist to determine the best solution. 

Twin blocks are similar to the Herbst appliance but with a somewhat different build. This device is designed to offer a quicker fix. It covers the bicuspids and molars with upper and lower occlusal pads while forward-locking the mandible with two interlocked plates. 

The Bionator is the most visually obtrusive alternative and looks like a retainer. It comes with a customized wire framework, an expansion tool that can be adjusted, and an acrylic body. It helps to correct the unmatched dental arch.


We believe you can now see the reason that your child may have to wear the Herbst appliance as a solution for dental problems. Get in touch with your orthodontist if you have more questions or concerns about using the device.

Kelly Hancock, RDH

Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.

This article and all advice on this website, Toothbrush Life, is intended to help people gain knowledge about general oral health topics. No articles or advice on this website are intended to replace professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or qualified healthcare provider to help you with any questions you have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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