What are Orthodontic Expanders?
During the course of your child’s orthodontic treatment, the orthodontist may find that their jaw and palate could use some widening to allow more room for their adult teeth to grow or to correct misalignments. That’s where orthodontic expanders come in.
An orthodontic expander, also known as a palatal expander, is an appliance that gradually widens your child’s jaw and palate. Read our guide below to learn how an orthodontic expander at Lach Orthodontics can improve your child’s oral health.
When Orthodontic Expanders Are Necessary
While most patients won’t require an orthodontic expander for their specific treatment plan, Dr. Lach may recommend one for your child depending on their specific oral health needs. When necessary, orthodox expanders play a vital role in the development of your child’s smile.
A dental expander is a very useful tool for creating space and correcting abnormally shaped jaws. Because overcrowding is such a common orthodontic issue, expanders are used in many of our patients’ treatment plans. Dr. Lach will examine your child’s mouth and jaw thoroughly before determining whether or not a palatal expander will be necessary.
Benefits of Orthodontic Expanders
If you’ve never had orthodontic treatments before, the concept of a palatal expander may be completely unfamiliar to you. During your consultation with Dr. Lach, you can ask any questions you may have about the appliance. . Overall, orthodontic expanders have numerous benefits, including:
- Improves your child’s breathing
- Lessens the need for tooth removals down the line
- Might shorten the time your child will need braces
- Creates room for emerging adult teeth
- Improves tooth and jaw alignment, making for more effective brushing and flossing
- Improves chewing
While it will take your child some time to adjust to the expander, most of our patients get used to them very quickly, with the pros definitely outweighing the cons.
Why Early Orthodontic Care Matters
Expander use is particularly formative and important for younger children. Some of our patients are skeptical, wondering why they should bring their children to an orthodontist before all of their adult teeth have grown in. A common misconception is that because their child still has not lost all of their teeth, any orthodontic care will result in wasted money and have to be repeated in adulthood.
While we’re always happy to address any concerns, Dr. Lach assures parents that much of our treatment of our youngest patients has to do with reshaping the jaw, not the position of individual teeth. The truth is, in the same way routine dental care is important for monitoring the development of your child’s teeth, so is orthodontic care. Bringing your child to an orthodontist at a young age can help reveal problems in jaw structure that can be addressed before they worsen and become harder to treat over time.
Childhood orthodontic care is also easier and typically more effective than adult orthodontic care. The jaw bones are “softer” and more malleable during the early years of life, easing the difficulty of making changes to jaw orientation. Once an abnormal jaw shape has been corrected, adult teeth will have a reasonable amount of space to grow.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will my child have to wear an expander?
The length of time your child will have to wear their expander will depend on their own unique treatment plan. Typically, children will wear them for up to six months. During your child’s appointment with Dr. Lach, he’ll provide you with an accurate estimate as to how long orthodontic expanders may be needed.
What are the top reasons my child will need an expander?
Usually, a palatal expander will be recommended when there isn’t enough space for permanent teeth to come in correctly, or there is a crossbite between the two arches. That’s why it works best for children and teens—their bones are still in a growing phase.
If left untreated, abnormalities in your child’s jaw or teeth can become worse over time and potentially require more invasive procedures to correct.
Is wearing a palatal expander painful?
Your child’s experience with an expander should not be painful. There will likely be some initial discomfort and soreness while the mouth and jaw adjust to it, but that usually goes away quickly.
Orthodontic Expanders at Lach Orthodontics
Ready to learn more about orthodontic expanders or orthodontic care in general? Call or text our office at (407) 359-1960. One of our friendly team members will get right back to you and set up an appointment at our Lake Nona or Oviedo office as soon as possible.