Orthodontics doesn’t just involve braces, with an array of appliances and techniques available to the skilled orthodontist in the quest to create a healthy, vibrant smile. One such appliance is the orthodontic expander, and here’s how it works…
An orthodontic expander
Generally used in children aged up to their mid-teens, the orthodontic expander is an appliance fitted to the upper or lower jaw.
When used in the upper jaw, an orthodontic expander works to widen the palate, creating more room for teeth.
In the lower jaw it performs a slightly different function. Here it pushes teeth to the edge of the jaw and gum line to force teeth into the upright position or create more room.
The reason for the difference is that the bone behind the upper palate only fuses around the age of 16. The lower jaw doesn’t have this flexibility.
How does it work?
Orthodontic expanders are metal appliances featuring expansion screws. They are generally fitted to the back molars using metal rings. Over the course of treatment, the expander gradually widens by the parent/guardian turning the expansion screw once a day for a prescribed number of days. A force is then generated by the appliance to expand the upper jaw.
In the lower jaw the pressure of the expander allows the teeth to shift outwards over time. In this instance, an orthodontic expander can only be used if there is sufficient bone and gum tissue around the roots of the teeth to accommodate them in their proposed position.
When is an orthodontic expander used?
Orthodontic expanders are often considered an early intervention treatment that is best used prior to braces or before children reach their mid-teens.
The appliance is used when children have a narrow jaw and are likely to develop crossbites or overcrowding. Essentially it widens the arch providing more room for adult teeth.
What are the benefits?
Orthodontic expanders can reduce or eliminate the need for tooth removal and are an effective strategy to prevent more extensive treatment in the future.
This treatment option is one of the reasons the Australian Society for Orthodontists recommends children have their first visit to their orthodontist at about the age of seven.
About Norwest Orthodontics
Norwest Orthodontics specialises in helping you achieve a great smile, no matter your age. We feature a range of orthodontic treatments that span from early intervention right through to remedial adult work.
We also have a suite of treatments available that include discrete, removeable Invisalign braces, and welcome the opportunity to work with you to achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of.