What to Expect With Your Child’s Orthodontic Expander

Orthodontic expanders do pretty much what the name suggests. They expand, or widen, your child’s jaw or palate, making room for all their adult teeth to grow in normally. If your child needs them, getting started with the devices early can bring significant benefits down the road.

If your child is under 16, schedule an exam at LM Orthodontics to find out if expanders are a good idea.

Expander basics

There are two different types of expanders. Your child might benefit from one or both of them, depending on the specifics of their teeth and jaws.

Upper jaw expanders anchor to the upper back molars. With each turn of the attached screws, using a special key, they widen by roughly a quarter of a millimeter. This works because there’s a gap between the two halves of the roof of their mouth during development

Because there’s no gap between the lower jawbones, lower jaw expanders work in another way. Rather than pulling your jaw apart, they push teeth that lean inward to a straighter position.

What expanders feel like

Your child will probably feel some amount of pressure once orthodontic expanders are in place, especially after turning the screw. If your child experiences pain or discomfort, over-the-counter pain relievers can help. 

Expanders can feel a bit awkward when speaking or talking at first. Some kids lisp or drool a bit until they grow more accustomed to wearing the devices. With time and practice, it’ll get easier.

What a gap means

A gap appearing between your child’s front teeth after having an expander placed might seem alarming, but it’s pretty common and normal. The gap shows that their palate is widening, which is a good thing. It’ll probably be corrected with braces, in the following stage of orthodontic care.

Caring for expanders

Your child should brush their orthodontic expanders several times a day, ideally in the morning, after meals, and before bed. When they brush, they can also use a syringe to clear away any lingering debris. Don’t hesitate to help your child with this cleaning process. Encouragement to care for the devices can also go far.

To prevent loosening or distorting expanders, dissuade your child from eating sticky foods, nuts, ice, and candy. It's a good idea to keep alternative snacks and foods on-hand. You also want to keep your child from chomping on hard objects, such as pencils, either. 

Do you want to learn more about expanders? Contact us through our website and schedule an appointment today!

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