An orthodontic expander is used to correct the posterior crossbite. A crossbite itself is a kind of common malocclusion where one or some of the upper teeth bite on the inside of the teeth on the lower arch. The expander works to fix a crossbite by making the upper jaw widen as children growing. Before puberty, the cartilage that connect the left and right side of upper jaw bone or maxilla does not fuse yet so it can still be stretched, widening the upper arch. That is why expanders are most successfully used before children reach their puberty, usually between the ages of 7 and 12. After puberty, the suture on their palate will fuse completely so it will be difficult to be expanded.
Types of Orthodontic Expander
Based on how fast the expanders give a result, they are categorized into two types; rapid and slow expanders. Rapid expanders are the most common one. They are fitted on the palate around molars using bands and rings and held in place with special glue. As they are located on the palate, they are not visible. An expander has a screw that can be turned to make the appliance active. It needs to be activated once a day for the three to four weeks. After that, a child should wear it for another three to six months or until the jaw bone grow to reach expected width. Children cannot turn the expander on their own, so their parents or guardian should do the job.
Rapid expansion treatment is faster than lower expansion. If you want to get a faster result you can take the rapid one. It can work faster because it gives more pressure to the teeth. You should consult to your orthodontist to decide the most suitable treatment for your condition.
How is expander used? As mentioned previously, the expander should be activated by turning the key. It gives a feel of pressure but it does not hurt. Even, some children feel nothing at all when the key is turned. Just like using other dental appliances, kids experience tough time to get used to an expander. It usually takes a week. During this time, they usually don’t eat much. But don’t worry because your kids will get back to normal after a week. They can just eat anything except sticky food because it can pull off the expander. Serve soups and smoothies for the first week to boost your kids’ appetite.
Why is placing an expander important? An expander is used to make a room in the mouth so a crossbite can be fixed. If it left untreated, your kid can suffer from asymmetric jaw growth. Besides, when the jaw is wider, there will be more space for tongue and for breathing. When the expander is working, a gap between two front teeth is formed. This condition is normal and in 2 to 3 months. Can expanders be used by adults? They work effectively for kids but not for adults. Adults can use them but they will just move the teeth, not the bone. The best treatment for adults if they want jaw bone expansion is jaw surgery.