Expanders Specialist

LM Orthodontics -  - Orthodontist

LM Orthodontics

Orthodontists located in McLean, VA

Getting your child started on orthodontics early can benefit their oral health later in life. At LM Orthodontics you can find out if your child needs expanders for their palate or jaw before age 16 to make way for a full healthy set of adult teeth. The team can determine if your child has crowding issues or a crossbite and creates a prompt and generally painless expander plan. To book your child’s evaluation, call the clinic to request an appointment today.


What are expanders?

Expanders are common orthodontic appliances that widen a child’s jaw during the growth of the bones and cartilage, making it spacious enough for adult teeth. Expanders are available for your upper jaw, lower jaw, or both. Expanders for your upper and lower jaw use different mechanics:

Upper jaw expanders

Upper expanders are anchored to your upper back molars. They have screws attached to them that you must turn using a special key each day. With each turn, the expander gets wider by about a quarter of a millimeter. During your child’s development, there’s a space between the two halves of the bone of the roof of their mouth. The two bones fuse together between ages 14 and 16. Before it does, the expander can easily move them apart to expand your upper jaw. 

Lower jaw expanders

Lower jaw expanders work differently because, unlike your upper jaw, there is no gap between the bones that the expander moves apart. Instead of moving your whole jaw apart, lower expanders push inward-leaning teeth out so they stand straight up. 

Why does my child need expanders?

Your LM Orthodontist can tell if your child needs expanders from a very early age. It may be due to a crowded row of teeth or an alignment issue called a crossbite.

You can tell if your child has a crossbite if their upper teeth fit inside of their lower row of teeth when they bite down. The crossbite could affect the entire row of teeth, just the back teeth, or just the teeth in the front. If a crossbite affects your child’s entire row of back teeth, an expander may be necessary before all their permanent adult teeth arrive.

Will expanders hurt my child’s teeth?

Most children who get expanders don’t report pain, and if there is any discomfort, it is tolerable. When you turn the expander, your child might feel some discomfort from the pressure against their teeth. Turning your child’s expander at night before bed could help to minimize the discomfort, as they’ll sleep through most of it.

If pain occurs in your child’s teeth or anywhere in their face while they use an expander, you must call LM Orthodontics as soon as possible.

If you suspect that your child might need an expander before they start losing their baby teeth, call LM Orthodontics for an evaluation.