Contrary to what you may assume, orthodontic treatment doesn’t just involve braces. There are specific times in which orthodontic appliances are utilized to help the teeth move into their ideal position. If your child is seeing an orthodontist for the first time, you may hear that an expander is needed first.
A palatal expander is a common orthodontic appliance and is used to eliminate crowding and crossbites in growing patients. For best results, an expander is used before the age of 14, or when the growth plate in the roof of the mouth has not yet fused together. It is a metal appliance that is placed in the arch (or roof) of your child’s mouth. Expanders are attached by bands that are placed around the teeth or plastic bonded over the teeth. In most cases, your child’s expander will be a fixed appliance.
Because this may be the first appliance that your child has ever encountered, it can be intimidating. However, you can reassure your child that expanders are relatively painless. Like any orthodontic appliance, an expander will take some getting used to. Your child may speak differently for the first few days or drool more than usual. It will also require your child to avoid certain sticky foods. After the initial few days, however, it will feel natural and painless.
A palatal expander works by periodic activation or turning of the appliance. This may cause your child to feel pressure, but it will only last for a few minutes. You will notice that a space develops between the upper central incisors; this is an indication that the expander is working and opening up the arch to make room for a straighter smile. Because there is always a certain degree of relapse, or tendency for your child’s teeth to move back, your orthodontist may try to over-expand your child’s palate to account for this.
Orthodontics can involve a wide variety of appliance types and stages. It is perfectly okay and expected that you ask questions. The more you know as a parent, the more you can educate your child on what to expect. This tends to lessen your child’s anxiety and make their orthodontic experience more positive. To learn more about palatal expanders, call Schatz Orthodontics today.
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22610 US Highway 281 North, Suite 201
San Antonio, TX 78258
Phone: (210) 494-4606