If you are concerned about your child’s smile, you may be wondering what can be done to fix their crooked teeth. An orthodontic expander may be the solution.
Very often, one of the first orthodontic treatments for children and adolescents is using an orthodontic expander. Expanders can be dental-related, and they work on pushing teeth into better positions. They may also be skeletally related and be used to make the jaws physically wider.
The difference between these two is very simple. When viewing the skeletal expander from the front, you don’t see anything. Underneath, however, there’s a little key with a little screw in the middle that gets turned at home. This is painless and does not cause any significant discomfort. A suture that runs right up and down the middle of the upper jaw remains open until the age of about 12 or 13. If we can see kids and begin their treatment at the appropriate age, we can adjust this upper jaw to the proper width skeletally.
Why do we need to do that? If, as we’re measuring on an x-ray, we notice that the upper jaw is skeletally narrow compared to the width of the head and the width of the lower jaw, we can use a skeletal expander to widen the upper jaw to the proper width.
Very often, we’ll use an orthodontic expander next. The orthodontic expander will push the teeth into a wider position. Measuring on an x-ray lets us know whether we need to use a skeletal expander first, or whether we just need a orthodontic expander to push teeth into a better position.
From the front, you don’t see anything at all; however, from the underside, it applies pressure from the inside toward the outside. This will make the teeth just a little tender the first couple of days but, there is typically just a two- or three-day adjustment period. Then, the kids are very used to it.
As for the lower, it’s a very similar situation that just follows right along the inside of the lower teeth. Again, it pushes from the inside to the outside, putting a little pressure on the teeth and working to create added dental width, more space to straighten crowded teeth.
If you have any questions about an orthodontic expander, please call our office today. We have five convenient WNY locations and offer free screenings.