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Orthodontic Expander

23 Jun 2017, Posted by admin in Uncategorized

It is common to see wide confused looking eyes when our patients (and their parents) learn they need to get an expander.  It is nothing to be afraid or worried about Rapid Palatal expansion is quite common in orthodontics. Dr. Virdee routinely uses expanders in her Port Credit and Sudbury patients.  Although intimidating at first it really is an excellent dental appliance with great results.  By taking advantage of the bodies natural growth process you can sometimes correct a bad bite from an early age.

An orthodontist might recommend palatal expansion for various reasons. When your child has some crowding due to a narrow arch or a cross bite your orthodontist will advise you of the benefits of palatal expansion. A narrow arch meaning the upper jaw is to narrow for the lower jaw. And a cross bite is when a tooth or multiple teeth are not in the correct position in the jaw resulting in a malocclusion (the back teeth might bite inside the lower teeth instead of outside).

How expansion works is in the upper jaw there is a suture that runs directly down the middle this suture is called the mid palatine suture. By placing an expander, you can slowly apply pressure to this suture to create additional room.  The additional room is created because the pressure created by the expander encourages bone growth on both sides of this suture resulting in a wider palate. The expander is usually turned once a day by the patient or parent. In orthodontics time is of the essence when using palatal expansion because you need to ensure the growth plate has not fused this usually happens at approximately 14-16 years of age but can differ between individuals.

Most commonly this appliance which is fabricated in a lab is bonded or glued to your child’s top teeth and covers their palate – there is little discomfort when the appliance is placed and patient acceptance is usually very quick in children. During expansion, you will notice a space open up between the upper front teeth – this is normal and will reduce on its own.  This space is created because the jaw is being pushed in opposite directions.

There shouldn’t be any pain during expansion however it is common to experience feelings of pressure when the key is being turned. You may notice some difficulty speaking within the first couple of days and it is best to stick to some softer foods and treats when getting used to the appliance. There will also be an increase in saliva as the mouth adjusts to having the appliance in.

The orthodontist will let you know how many turns of the expander are required per day and will give you instructions in person on how to properly turn the key.  Once the achieved expansion is complete the appliance will stay in the mouth for a couple of months to ensure minimal relapse.  While undergoing expansion, it is important that you follow the orthodontist’s directions and not miss any appointments as progress is monitored very closely.

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