An orthodontic expander is a simple yet helpful tool for creating a lifetime of happy and healthy smiles. An orthodontic expander accomplishes exactly what you think – expands your mouth and creates space for orthodontic treatment. Our orthodontic experts in Lexington, Camden, and Columbia, SC are to help you along in your smile journey!
What is an Orthodontic Expander?
An orthodontic expander is a type of fixed appliance that helps create more space in your mouth during orthodontic treatment. The expander is fixed in the upper roof of your mouth and gradually widens the upper row of teeth and jaw to reduce overcrowding. It sounds scary, we know, but the use of an orthodontic expander is a simple and gentle tool and can easily help you on your journey to the smile of your dreams!
Why Does My Child Need an Orthodontic Expander?
The orthodontic expander’s main purpose is to create more room for your child’s teeth to grow and develop in a healthy, less crowded manner. If your child is exhibiting signs of a crossbite, overcrowding, or impacted teeth, your orthodontist may recommend an expander to ensure their teeth grow in properly.
A crossbite occurs when a jaw is too narrow for the upper teeth to fit correctly with the lower teeth. This results in the top teeth dropping lower than the bottom teeth. Overcrowding is as simple as there just isn’t enough room in a child’s mouth for their teeth to properly erupt. An expander can help create the space needed for your child’s smile to grow into a happy and healthy one. Sometimes with overcrowding, teeth that have not yet erupted can become impacted. An impacted tooth occurs when the overcrowded teeth block a tooth from coming in. An orthodontic expander can widen the jaw to create the space needed for impacted teeth to erupt.
How Does it Work?
A palatal orthodontic expander is custom made for each patient and is fixed to the upper roof of the mouth, behind to the top row of teeth. The expander applies gentle pressure on the upper molars which slowly creates the pressure needed to widen the jaw. Your orthodontist will adjust it at each appointment to ensure your teeth are moving and creating the necessary space.
When you get your orthodontic expander put in place, your orthodontist will provide instructions on how to adjust it at home by turning it with a key made for your expander. Most of the time, you will turn your expander to adjust it daily to help achieve the desired outcome. For the next few months, you’ll work on adjusting the expander and help your teeth solidify the expansion. Click here to watch an instructional video on how to turn your orthodontic expander!
How Long Does it Stay in?
The entire process of expanding your jaw should take around 3 to 6 months, depending on the patient’s individual needs. Your orthodontist will explain in detail how long you will need to be adjusting your expander, but once your teeth have reached the desired expansion, your orthodontist will have you wear the expander to solidify the expansion.
Maintaining Your Orthodontic Expander
To keep your orthodontic expander in tip-top shape, remember to clean it every day to avoid food and plaque buildup. It may take some getting used to when it comes to eating with an expander, but using a water flosser, you can easily clean out the food to avoid getting any residue stuck in the expander and the keyhole. Remember, avoid foods that are not safe for braces, like crunchy or sticky foods, to keep the orthodontic expander in place.
If an expander comes loose or falls out, contact your orthodontist immediately and schedule an appointment at any of our conveniently located Family Orthodontics offices in Lexington, Columbia, or Camden, SC.