Article by Dr. Leaver & Dr. Gardner
UNDERSTANDING THE MECHANICS OF ORTHODONTIC EXPANDERS
Orthodontics has many different aspects to it. With the various treatments designed for the assortment of problems, there are probably a few things many people do not understand in regards to details of orthodontic devices, treatments and how the mechanics work. We could write volumes on every subject, but today, we at Leaver and Gardner Orthodontics would like to briefly relate the orthodontic expanders, what they are, how they work and what they are used for to better help you or your child understand the mechanics of it.
WHAT ARE ORTHODONTIC EXPANDERS FOR TEETH
Children between the ages 6-13 will lose their baby teeth and the permanent teeth will erupt. The downside is that some children’s jaw is not proportionate enough to allow permanent teeth to grow efficiently, resulting in crowding and misalignment. An option could be to extract a tooth or two to make more accommodating space for the permanent teeth to grow, but whenever possible, we prefer to leave the teeth in place. That’s where orthodontic expanders step in.
HOW DOES A PALATAL OR UPPER JAW EXPANDER FOR CHILDREN?
To prevent overcrowding and cross bites, an upper jaw expander gently stretches the bone and cartilage of the palate in an effort to expand a growing child’s arch. According to experts, a successful palatal expansion treatment needs to be done before the child’s midpalatal suture fuses, which happens between the ages of 14 and 16. Traditionally, upper expanders are attached to the molars with metal rings; however, in circumstantial cases they can be removable. Over the course of several weeks or a few months, upper jaw expanders have expansion screws built in place to gently stretch and slowly separate the soft cartilage when they are activated. Over the course of treatment, often parents may notice a gap between the front teeth manifest, this is the expander doing its job and is normal.
UPPER JAW EXPANDER INITIAL PAIN & SIDE EFFECTS
Initially, the appliance feels uncomfortable, bulky and pressure may be felt on their teeth, roof of the mouth and sometimes behind the eyes and nose. The pressure dissipates and eventually it isn’t felt at all. Excessive saliva may occur and speech may be slightly off until the child gets use to the device and adjusts. Avoid sticky foods while the expander is in place, and until the device is more comfortable for your child, try serving the softer foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, soups and soft breads.
LOWER JAW EXPANDER
The lower jaw expander is designed differently when there is overcrowding that needs treatment. The lower arch doesn’t have suture to close, thus the bone can’t expand. Instead the lower jaw expander gently adjusts the teeth. The teeth that are tipped inward are treated with a lower jaw expander to upright them. If that isn’t needed, the expander will flare the teeth over the supporting the bone. If the lower jaw expander is being considered, there need to be adequate gums and bone supporting the roots for safe effectiveness. If there isn’t, extraction might be the better alternative.
GOOD ORAL HYGIENE TIPS FOR BRACES & EXPANDERS
Whether your child is utilizing braces or expanders, daily oral hygiene is extremely important. The hardware in either device can make oral care a challenge, but brushing twice a day, flossing and mouth wash regiments are important in the overall care and result of your child’s teeth.
PALATAL UPPER JAW & LOWER JAW EXPANDERS & BRACES IN LAS VEGAS VALLEY OF SUMMERLIN, NORTHWEST LV & HENDERSON NEVADA
Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics has the experience and expertise to ensure your child is getting the best treatment needed for their oral care. We have two offices in the Vegas valley for your convenience, call us today!