When talking about orthodontics, a common thought that is likely to occur in your mind is braces. However, apart from using braces, there other orthodontic treatments that can be used to improve teeth alignment and help you have a more beautiful smile. One of such treatments is an orthodontic expander. An orthodontic expander is more commonly used in children between five to sixteen years of age. The primary purpose of the device is to widen the maxilla (upper jaw) in children so that the upper teeth fit together with lower ones properly. The use of this orthodontic device is usually followed by braces that are used to straighten teeth after the room has been created by the expander. To know about this orthodontic device, take a look at his interesting guide listed below.
#1: What is an orthodontic expander used for?
An orthodontic expander, also known as a palatal expander or rapid maxillary expansion appliance is a device used to widen the roof or palate of the mouth to make enough room for permanent teeth to grow so that they do not become crowded in the mouth. Teeth that are crowded in the mouth often lack space in-between them causing to grow crooked or overlap each other. The expander is also used to widen the upper palate to treat bite alignment usually caused due to improper fitting of the upper and lower jaw.
#2: How does it work?
The expander is a custom-made an orthodontic appliance that fits at the roof of the mouth (near the palate) between the rows of back teeth. After it has been placed, it needs to be tensioned with a special key at intervals by the orthodontist to widen the arch in small increments.
Generally, right and left halves of a child’s upper jaw do not knit together until sometime after puberty. Until then, the upper jaw is soft and can be easily manipulated. When tension is applied, the expander gently moves the bone apart and cause new bone tissues to fill in space naturally.
The process of tightening the expander every day is done for a few weeks causing the spacing to improve dramatically. The appliance is left on for several weeks more to stabilize the expansion. A child may wear the expander for about 3- 6 months after which he or she may have to use a set of braces if required.
#3: What are different types of palatal expanders?
There are basically two types of dental expanders- removable and fixed
1: Removable- This type is usually suitable for early to mid primary school age children.
2: Fixed: Suitable for teenagers and young adults, this type of expanders are available in three designs to make it easier and effective.
- · Hyrax type: In this type of fixed expander, the orthodontist can control the amount of expansion using and expander key.
- · Superscrew type: Apart from allowing the orthodontist to manage the amount of expansion using a larger expander key, this of expander also allows teens and young adults to turn the expander themselves.
- · Quad helix type: This type of fixed expander is usually used by orthodontist when a combination of expander treatment and movement of back teeth is required.
#4: Does an expander affect speaking and eating?
Speaking with expanders
The first week or two after fitting the appliance is usually considered the adaptation period to get used to the initial speech changes along with the changes in the perceptions by the tongue. It is noted that that children and teenagers usually adapt better to the changes than adults. The most common speech changes noticed are those that are more pronounced with the ‘th’ and ‘s’ sounds. However, after the first or second follow-up adjustment, the speech changes are significantly gone.
Eating with Expanders
Brushing and cleaning teeth with the expander usually takes more time. Therefore, avoiding sticky sweet food like cakes, confectionaries, caramel, biscuits is highly recommended to make teeth cleaning easier.
#5: Is there an age- limit for using expanders?
If you looking to widen your narrow upper jaw, taking the expander treatment during the early teenage years is highly recommended. However, if you an adult and are considering to go for an expander treatment for widening your upper jaw, you may require this treatment to be combined with a jaw surgery for the treatment to be successful. Consulting your orthodontist can be highly beneficial in helping you know more about the treatment options according to your age.
#6: What are the benefits of orthodontic expander?
- · Correct problems with bite: the problem of crossbite usually occurs when the top teeth at the back bit inside ( instead of outside) the bottom teeth
- · Expands the upper jaw: Expanding the upper helps prevent conditions such as crowding caused when the jaw is incapable of accommodating all teeth.
- · Impacted Teeth: Using an expander helps make room in a crowded upper jaw and allows the new teeth to erupt.
- · Lesser braces time: Using the expander considerably decreases the time of having to wear braces, giving kids and teenagers all the reason to smile.
#7: What Oral care habits are required to be followed with expanders?
Children or adults wearing expanders are required to follow a good oral care routine for good results. Apart from brushing and flossing every day, using cleaning aides designed to keep their teeth and expander should be used regularly. Since food and debris often get stuck beneath an expander, using a water jet or a special syringe designed to gush out water beneath the expander to get rid of the debris. In addition, using a flexible palate cleaner can also help remove all the food debris and excess material that are left underneath the expander.
An orthodontic expander is an appliance that works with natural growth patterns of your child’s mouth, offering great results. It can be a great boon for all those have a narrow jaw, have bite problems or wish to have a better-looking smile. However, consulting your orthodontist to determine if a palate expander can benefit you can go a long way in helping you give you that beautiful smile you had always wanted.