If your child needs orthodontic work, your orthodontist might recommend an expander. Using an expander creates additional room in the mouth so your child might not need to wear braces as long before her teeth are properly aligned. This kind of interceptive treatment is becoming more and more common in orthodontic practice.
What is an Orthodontic Expander?
Until the age of about fourteen to sixteen, the root of the mouth, also called the palate, consists of two halves that are not fused together. Also known as a palate expander, an orthodontic expander fits in the roof of the mouth. It is anchored to the teeth and is constructed so it can be gradually made larger over a period of time. Typically, you use a key-like device to turn a screw in the middle of the expander. This moves the expander so it pushes the two halves of the palate away from each other. Your orthodontist will tell you how often to turn the screw as well as how far to turn it each time.
The bones of the palate are moved very slowly, but some discomfort can occur, especially at the beginning of the process. As more room is made for crowded teeth, the teeth can become achy and even a little loose as they shift into the extra space. Although the expander might look intimidating at first, it’s simple to use and will help your child’s teeth in the long run.
Helping Your Child Adjust to an Expander
Your child’s teeth might feel uncomfortable at first, and having the expander cemented into place can take some getting used to. For the first few days, your child might be more comfortable eating soft foods until he adjusts to having the expander in his mouth. If the expander seems inconvenient or uncomfortable, just remember that it’s likely to reduce the amount of time your child will spend in braces. However, if discomfort is extreme or there are other symptoms that concern you, let our orthodontists at McKinney Orthodontics know.