At All About Braces, we want our patients to experience every advantage of the most modern technologies and tools we have. Our orthodontic specialists don’t just use braces or Invisalign aligners to reposition crooked teeth. We can also treat more complicated aspects of jaw development to assist in positioning your bite correctly. That’s why our Denver area orthodontists recommend your child have his or her first appointment around their 7th birthday so that we can diagnose any potential challenges with your teeth development of your teeth. One of the most common early orthodontic treatments for children are expanders. An expander is an orthodontic appliance that opens up the upper jaw and roof of the mouth to prevent, correct, or reduce the severity of problems associated with an upper jaw that’s too narrow.
What Do Expanders Look Like?
An expander has two rings that are attached to the inside of the upper molars on each side of your mouth and are connected in the middle with a screw. Slightly turning the screw causes tension, prompting the bones to gradually move apart and new bone to form in the gap. Once the desired expansion has been achieved, the appliance remains in place to allow the new bone to stabilize.
Who Uses Expanders?
Most expanders are prescribed for children from 7 years old up to early puberty of 10 or 11 years but they can be used in adults up to early 20s. The key to the success of the expander is the timing. Much like babies have soft spots on the top of their heads, children have soft spots on the roof of their mouth which doesn’t fully form until early puberty. When expanders are used during this natural growing period before these bones have attached, treatment is more effective and jaws can be moved to fix bite problems.
Why Do We Use Expanders?
An expander is most commonly used to treat a variety of orthodontic problems with a child’s bite including:
- Crossbite. When the upper jaw is too narrow to fit with the lower jaw, an expander can expand the upper jaw to fit properly.
- Crowding: If your child’s mouth is too small to allow for his or her permanent teeth to come in, an expander can be used to widen the upper jaw and create space.
- Impacted Teeth. If your child has a tooth that is trying to erupt but his behind other teeth, the widening of the upper jaw can allow the tooth to grow into its proper position.
- Breathing Problems. An expander can widen a narrow arch in the upper jaw which can restrict airflow and cause breathing problems,
- Shorten Treatment. Using an expander can make your child’s smile more broad and pleasing and decrease the amount of time your child may need to be in braces.
How Do Expanders Work?
Our Arvada orthodontist will custom-make your expander to best fit over most of the top teeth in the back of your mouth. The appliance consists of two halves connected in the middle with a screw. With a special key, slightly turning the screw will induce tension at the intersection of the two palatal bones. This tension will progressively move the two bones apart. At the time of the desired expansion, your doctor at All About Braces will leave the expander in for a couple more months to give your bones time to adapt and stabilize the new expansion. Use of an expander is most often followed by braces to then straighten the teeth. Expander treatment usually lasts a few weeks, but the expander is left in for several months to make sure the position created is maintained.
Make Your Early Treatment Appointment Today!
There is no way to know if your child is a candidate for an expander until you visit your nearest All About Braces orthodontist office for an exam. With locations in Denver, Aurora, Arvada, Lakewood and Thornton Contact us by phone or complete our online appointment form and we will examine your child’s teeth to determine if early treatment is needed or if here are any other concerns that we can prepare for to make your child’s orthodontic treatment faster and less costly. We look forward to meeting your child and getting started on any orthodontic treatment he or she may need to maintain great oral health.