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February 15th 2022

10 Facts About Palatal Expanders

palatal expander roberts and de marsche philadelphia orthodontistsMany kids are swayed to the idea of an expander once they realize that wearing it can potentially simplify and shorten any other orthodontic treatment in their future. This customized appliance is a gift to orthodontic patients who once thought the unique placement of their teeth could never be corrected.

1. It’s Discreet

An expander can look daunting, but it’s a simple, effective appliance that, once in place, subtly widens the natural suture on the roof of the mouth. This allows permanent teeth to erupt without crowding.

2. It Works Serious Magic

When a child’s upper jaw is narrow, this structural issue can look impossible to correct. But the expander stops bad behaviors from continuing (thumbsucking or poor tongue posture), and ceases undesirable growth patterns like a crossbite or overcrowding, forcing the jaw to grow to the appropriate width – like magic.

3. Age of Application Varies

Expanders can work for kids anywhere from age 5 to about 15 or 16. The goal is to put an expander in place once most of the child’s adult teeth have come in, but if a few in the upper jaw have yet to appear that works too.

4. You Need a Key

Anchored to the back upper molars, the screws on the expander must be turned daily using a special key. This action widens the expander by a fraction of a millimeter, and though the move is small, it is significant.

5. Expect an Adjustment Period

You won’t forget that you’re wearing an expander and there will be an adjustment period but side effects – like tongue irritation, excess saliva, difficulty chewing – should clear up within a week or so. There will also be mild pressure every time the expander is adjusted.

6. There Are Different Types of Expanders

An expander for the upper jaw is the most common appliance. Lower jaw expanders are also available but instead of moving the jawbone and spreading out how the teeth erupt, it pushes and straightens teeth that lean inward.

7. Expanders Are Mostly for Kids

Expanders and childhood work together because the two halves of the bone in the roof of a kid’s mouth already have a natural space. Before these bones fuse, the expander widens the upper jaw quickly and easily. However, expanders can be used as an alternative to jaw surgery for adults – it’s simply a more difficult and intensive treatment once your mouth is done growing.

8. They Need Time to Work

Though your child’s orthodontic expander does the bulk of its work over six weeks, it’s left in the mouth for closer to six months to ensure that the jaw heals properly and the mouth does not shift back.

9. Watch for the Space

You’ll know the expander is working when you see a space developing between the upper front teeth. This allows room for your child’s teeth to grow without crowding. Later, as part two of expander wear, your child will get dental braces or Invisalign to close any unwanted gaps and straighten all their teeth.

10. Interceptive Orthodontics May Accompany the Expander

Your orthodontist may opt to place interceptive orthodontics on your child’s teeth as their expander settles into place. Capitalizing on the new position of the jaw makes it possible to begin permanent alignment of the teeth long before the teen years and minimize or eliminate the need for full braces during adolescence.

Get an Expander in Center City Near Me

Why create the gaps in the first place if they just must be shut? Because it’s far easier to eliminate spaces between teeth than create them. Learn more from orthodontists Dr. Roberts and Dr. de Marsche at Philadelphia Orthodontists. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

Roberts & de Marsche Orthodontics

William W. Roberts III, D.M.D & Tanja J. de Marsche, D.M.D
Orthodontists in Woodinville WA

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