If you have been diagnosed with an overbite, you may have heard of two commonly prescribed devices called the MARA and Herbst appliances. While an overbite could occur because your upper jaw sits forward too far, your lower jaw could also be too far back. The job of the Herbst and MARA appliances is to coax the bottom jaw forward, correcting the overbite by reconnecting your upper and lower arches in a healthier default position.
While the appliances are similar, they differ in several functional ways that could make one or the other more appropriate for your situation. Continue reading to learn more about the MARA vs Herbst appliances, including how they function and how to choose between the two to treat your overbite.
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What is a MARA Appliance?
“MARA” is an acronym that stands for “Mandibular Anterior Repositioning Appliance.” It consists of a vertical tension system that connects your back molars on both the top and bottom jaw with specialized elbow joints. The mechanism that tightens and repositions the jaw sits across your palate.
The elbow attachments can be easily removed, allowing your orthodontist to make the needed adjustments at your follow-up appointments. This fine-tuning allows your orthodontist to control the force applied to your bottom jaw based on your progress.
What is a Herbst Appliance?
Like the MARA appliance, the Herbst device attaches to the four molars on the top and bottom jaws. However, unlike the vertical elbow joints of the MARA, the Herbst appliance uses two metal pistons that attach to the bottom jaw in a way that applies gentle force to push it forward.
As the patient develops, the bottom jaw readjusts to this forward position. This allows the Herbst appliance to remodel your bite to conform to the position of your top jaw.
Since these appliances are cemented to your teeth, you don’t have to worry about wearing them for a certain number of hours per day. Appliances like the Herbst are great for kids who haven’t finished puberty because their jaw structures are more malleable at that age. They will be more receptive to the changes as a result.
MARA Appliance vs Herbst: Which is Better?
The MARA and Herbst appliances both encourage the lower jaw to reposition itself closer to the upper arch. This promotes a healthy bite that can even change the patient’s facial structure, preventing the eventual complications of an overbite, such as painful chewing, breathing issues, gum diseases, generalized jaw pain, and speech impediments.
The devices are also similar in that they are cemented to four back molars and connect the upper and lower arch with metal joints that push the lower jaw forward. There are mechanical differences, however, that slightly change the effects they have.
For instance, the MARA appliance has been studied for its potential to rotate the upper jaw forward as well as flare the patient’s incisors compared to the Herbst. Since the devices can impact different structures, your orthodontist will look at the whole picture of your oral health profile, not just your lower jaw positioning, when choosing the right appliance for you.
There are other differences as well. The average treatment time for the Herbst appliance is 12 months, while the MARA appliance usually takes 15-18 months. The cost of the devices varies widely between providers since they are often add-ons to the patient’s braces.
This is because overbites are often caused by misaligned teeth in addition to a misplaced lower jaw. Ask your provider how much the appliances will cost you.
Note that both the MARA and Herbst appliances function as replacement treatments for dental headgear, which can cost much more and be much more intrusive. When it comes to comparing the two devices, ask your orthodontist which appliance best suits your situation.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.