|Crowding and lack of space for
the adult teeth is a very common problem for orthodontic patients.
In growing individuals the tendency is for the jaws to lengthen but narrow
over time. In adults, the narrowing and crowding continues over an entire
lifetime. Expansion or widening of the jaw is an effective treatment in
certain growing patients with overly narrow or constricted jaws. Expansion
is most effective before puberty when the jaws are still moldable.
|Upper jaw expansion works by opening the sutures of the
upper jaw and allowing the new bone to grow. Expansion of the lower jaw
involves uprighting tipped lower teeth, since there is no lower suture
|Expanders can be cemented appliances (fixed or glued
in) or removable (retainers).
|There is a key that is inserted into the appliance and
turned as directed by the doctor. An arrow next to the keyhole indicates
the direction of the turn. Some initial pressure or tightness for about
5 minutes should be expected. A space may open between the front teeth.
This is a good sign, showing that the suture is opening. The front teeth
will generally drift to close that space or we will later close with partial
CLEANING AND CARE
OF YOUR EXPANDER
|Cool water, toothpaste and a toothbrush are needed to
clean your expander. If your expander is cemented in, brush it as you would
your teeth, paying special attention to the bands that hold it in. Brush
gently along the gum line to remove the plaque. If your expander is a retainer,
take it out of your mouth and brush it with the same brush and toothpaste
as you would your teeth. Plaque sticks to plastic retainers better than
teeth, so extra brushing is important, especially around the top of the
retainer and where the wires join the plastic. Brush often, at least three
times a day and at least for two minutes at a time.
|If plaque builds up on the retainer over time, it will
dry and harden like tartar on the retainer and be difficult to remove with
a brush. Denture cleaners like Efferdent or Polydent are effective in removing
this tartar. Follow the directions on the package. Remember to leave the
retainer in the cleaner for no longer than 10 minutes. Use once a week
if needed. To economize, try lemon juice first to dissolve and loosed the
tartar before brushing. You may not need anything else!
GETTING USED TO YOUR EXPANDER
|Speech is different for the first few days with any orthodontic
appliance, including expanders. Try practicing talking or reading out loud,
saying many different words to practice placement of your tongue. You will
have a juicier mouth for the first few days, that's okay. If your expander
gets food stuck to it while you are eating, try to take small sips after
each bite of food to help wash it down. Don't worry,
after just a few days it will feel like an old friend!!