What do Orthodontic Expanders Do?
The average person has heard of orthodontic expanders yet might not understand exactly what they do. Orthodontic expanders perform a function similar to what their name suggests. In short, orthodontic expanders widen/expand a patient’s palate or jaw, creating that much more space for the adult teeth to emerge in a natural manner. If you suspect or know your child requires orthodontic expanders, it is important that they are added as soon as possible to maximize the ensuing benefits down the line. Let’s delve a little deeper into orthodontic expanders to help patients understand their purpose.
The Basics of Orthodontic Expanders
Two types of orthodontic expanders exist. Some patients benefit from both types of expanders while other primarily benefit from one. The nuances of the patient’s jaw and teeth ultimately determine whether one or two expanders can help. Upper jaw expanders connect to the molars in the upper back portion of the mouth. The expanders gradually widen the upper arch.
The lack of a gap between the lower jawbones means lower jaw expanders work a bit differently. Instead of pulling the jaw apart, lower jaw expanders push teeth that are leaning inward into more of a straight position.
The Meaning of the Gap
Gaps that form between a young patient’s front teeth after an expander is put into position might sound the mental alarm, yet such gaps are fairly common. The gap indicates the child’s palate is expanding. In short, this expansion is a good thing. The gap can be remedied with the use of braces.
Don’t Worry About the Feel of Expanders
Young patients typically feel the some level of pressure after orthodontic expanders are in position. If the patient feels discomfort or pain as the pressure increases, an over-the-counter pain reliever will certainly help.
Though expanders might feel a bit uncomfortable as the patient speaks, resulting in a slight lisp or temporary drooling, these are not lasting problems. Patients will gradually become that much more accustomed to wearing the orthodontic expanders, resulting in increased comfort as time progresses.
Signs That Orthodontic Expansion is Necessary
Impacted teeth, teeth crowding and a crossbite are all clear indications that orthodontic expansion is necessary. A crossbite occurs when the patient’s upper jaw is excessively narrow and cannot properly fit with the lower portion of the jaw. The top teeth toward the back bite behind the bottom teeth rather than outside of them. An expansion of the upper jaw is the solution.
Teeth crowding can be identified ahead of the point in time when the child’s adult teeth emerge. Bring your child to the orthodontist and you will have a heads up as to whether there will be enough room to accommodate teeth as they emerge. A widening of the upper portion of the jaw generates the space necessary without requiring a tooth extraction.
If a tooth has not erupted and is blocked by other teeth, it is impacted. A widening of the upper portion of the jaw makes it that much easier for the blocked tooth to properly erupt into the right position. In most cases, youngsters’ impacted teeth occur with the eye teeth or canine teeth.
The reasons for adding orthodontic expanders listed above are just a couple examples. Oftentimes, kids who require expanders need them for several reasons as opposed to only one. Above all, crossbites are the most common reason for adding orthodontic expanders. Crossbites are particularly problematic as they are likely to cause several other significant issues down the line ranging from permanent tooth damage to bite discomfort and pain.
Additional Benefits of Orthodontic Expanders
Widening the upper jaw has additional benefits aside from those detailed above. Orthodontic expanders widen the smile in a manner that is pleasing to the eye. Orthodontic expanders also have the potential to limit the number of teeth that must be removed for the purposes of creating space. In fact, expanding the upper jaw even has the potential to enhance breathing. An added bonus is orthodontic expanders also reduce the time it takes for orthodontic treatment to complete. As an example, a child might not have to wear braces for as long if he or she has orthodontic expanders.
Orthodontic Expansion Does Not Take as Long as Most Assume
There is a common misconception that orthodontic expansion takes upwards of a year or longer as that is the timeline for braces. However, this is not the case with orthodontic expanders. These expanders are typically worn between three months and six months. Once the proper level of expansion occurs, the expanders remain in the mouth for a couple more months to permit new bone to generate within the gap to stabilize the expansion.
Orthodontic Expander Care
Once your child is provided with orthodontic expanders, he or she should brush them multiple times per day. The best approach is to brush the expanders in the morning, following meals and before going to bed. When brushing, a syringe can be used to eliminate any remaining debris. If you are a parent of a child with orthodontic expanders, provide your little one with assistance cleaning his or her orthodontic expanders.
Parents should also discourage their child from consuming food that is sticky, candy, ice and nuts. Each of these threats is a threat to distort or loosen the orthodontic expanders. Furthermore, it is advisable to discourage your youngster from chewing on hard objects of any sort.
Schedule Your Appointment With Silver Lake Orthodontics Today
Our orthodontics specialists are a call away. Reach out to us today to schedule your appointment and learn more about our services. You can reach us by dialing (425) 448-7900 or by filling out our convenient online contact form.