Why Do I Need Expanders?

You just came back from seeing an orthodontist only to find out that you can’t start orthodontic treatment right away, and that you’ll need expanders first. What does that mean and why? Children and adolescents sometimes need expanders to provide proper arch sizes to allow for adult teeth to erupt or to correct a size difference in the jaws. They are great at helping to align your jaw, your bite, and your facial symmetry.

And while there are a number of different reasons why one would need expanders, generally speaking, we use an expander to create more room in the mouth. If your care is timed correctly, expanders can correct issues that would have to later be corrected with surgical orthodontics.

The Basics of Expanders

Before modern dentistry, when a person had an issue with overcrowding, crooked, or teeth growing improperly in the mouth, dentists and orthodontists sometimes simply extracted some teeth. This was because they believed the idea that removing several teeth would alleviate some of the crowding, and make more room. Thankfully, you, your child, or teen no longer has to face extraction as the only solution to crowding of the teeth.

Although expanders are likely more common in children, the devices are used for adults too. Sometimes surgery or TADs are necessary for conjunction with expanders when used for adults. When an expander is not feasible to expand the upper jaw or too severe to correct with expanders – Surgery may still be the best option!

Why Do I Need Expanders?

The use of expanders is an orthodontic treatment that is used to treat other conditions, in addition to crowding of teeth. This can include a crossbite between the two arches, to expand the upper jaw (maxilla) or lower jaw. This can greatly improve the function of your teeth and TMJ. Expanders can also be the first phase of treatment before receiving braces to help move along the process more smoothly.

Adults sometimes benefit from expanders when they have significant bite problems. Using expanders for the children, adolescents, and adults that need them results in improved function, and improved facial balance over time.

At Strickland Orthodontics, we use the smallest and the most comfortable expanders for our patients. The rapid palatal expander, or RPE, allows our skilled orthodontists to carefully insert the expander. The expander is activated daily for about 4-6 weeks. During this time, the expander creates a space between the two bones of the palate and corrects the skeletal differences in the two arches!

What Else Do I Need to Know About Expanders?

We understand that you may have questions beyond the basics of why you need expanders. Patients or family members often want information that includes:

  • How The Expander Is Put In Place
  • Questions Regarding Whether Expanders Are Removable By The Patient
  • The Length Of Time That Expanders Remain In Place
  • Care Of Expanders

The expanders have a tiny expansion screw built into them, which stretches the two portions of the expander over time. Patients typically experience little, if any discomfort when first getting expanders. It’s important to note that patients should never attempt to remove an expander. Some minor discomfort is normal, but it should become less noticeable within a short time. The patient usually experiences slight pressure for about five minutes after activation.

How Long Do I Need Expanders For?

The length of time that expanders are bonded in place varies, according to your specific needs. Typically, it is bonded for an average of six months. This allows for healing and the prevention of relapse of the space created.

It is crucial that patients properly care for their expanders. Proper oral hygiene requires that you brush your teeth and that you keep the expander clean. Gently brush completely around the expander after every meal. Avoid hard or sticky foods. Follow the complete care instructions that you receive at your appointment.

Expanders At Strickland Orthodontics

Contact us to make an appointment at one of our convenient locations. See the orthodontist at the Fairhope, AL location, at Spanish Fort, Foley, AL, or Daphne, AL. Get started on your way to improved oral health, improved facial balance, and a fuller smile when you trust Strickland Orthodontics for all your orthodontic needs. Call us today!