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Home > Blog > What Does an Expander Do?

What Does an Expander Do?

October 20, 2014

Facial Orthopedics sound kind of terrifying, but they can actually be your child’s best friend! One of the benefits of beginning orthodontic exams early in a child’s life (around 7 years old) is that we can greatly improve their future work. We can begin with facial orthopedics, which can correct issues with the shape of your child’s jaw before it becomes uncomfortable to do so (around puberty). One of the more common orthopedic solutions is an expander.

In order to understand an expander, you must first understand how the bones in your jaw work. The palate (the roof of your mouth) is made up of two bones that join in the middle, but they didn’t actually join until you were finished with puberty. In some cases, the upper jaw is not as wide as it should be, creating a cross bite where the upper teeth fit inside of the lower teeth making chewing difficult. We can repair this by using an expander.

What is an Expander?

An expander is an oral appliance that we secure in the top of your child’s mouth. It puts pressure on either side of the arch, pushing the teeth away from the center. It comes with a special key that you or your child will turn every day to continue adding pressure. In the course of 3-6 months, the expander will actually separate those bones in order to push the upper jaw out far enough to correct the bite as well as create more room for adult teeth to grow comfortably. As the bones separate (remember, they aren’t joined), your body creates new bone to fill in the center.

An expander sounds a lot scarier than it is. Kids sometimes get a kick out of showing the expander to their classmates! If your child is 7 or 8 and you notice problems with his bite, don’t hesitate to come in and begin the process. The sooner we can get to work, the better off your child will be. Contact us today to set up a consultation. We can’t wait to get started so your child can have the smile of his dreams!

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