At Griffin & Errera Orthodontics, we believe in patient education so that you can make informed decisions about what you think is best for you or your child. Whether you’re a parent considering orthodontic treatment for your child, or an adult exploring options for a healthier, more harmonious smile, this post will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of what expanders are, how they work, and what life is like with them. So, if you’re ready to expand your knowledge (pun intended!) about this essential orthodontic tool, keep reading!
What Are Expanders?
Expanders, also known as palate expanders, are orthodontic devices that widen your upper jaw. They make space for orthodontic appliances, such as metal braces or clear aligners, to work appropriately or help the upper and lower jaw come together correctly. The custom-made devices work by applying pressure to both halves of the upper palate, gently forcing them apart. As your palate expands, new bone forms to fill in the new gap, making the expansion stable and permanent!
At Griffin & Errera Orthodontics, we offer various treatment options, including LightForce clear braces and two-phase treatment, to treat as many members of the Middleburg, Warrenton, and Culpeper communities as possible. Each type of braces offers its pros and cons based on your needs and lifestyle.
Similarly, there are multiple kinds of palate expanders, each with advantages and disadvantages. If you need an expander, we’ll work closely with you to ensure you get the one that is best for you, but let’s go over some of them to give you an idea of what you can expect.
Surgically Assisted Rapid Palate Expander (SARPE)
As the name suggests, these expanders require surgical installation. An oral surgeon places this device where the two sides of your palate meet in the middle. You should follow your surgeon’s guidelines closely for the most comfortable and safest healing process.
Removable Palate Expander
You might be a candidate for a removable palate expander if your palate only needs to be widened slightly. Patients with a removable palate expander must remember to clean them daily with toothpaste and a toothbrush. You do not need to remove palate expanders when eating (though you should remove them for cleaning afterward).
Rapid Palate Expander
This appliance is fixed to the teeth and is not removable by the patient. Rapid palate expanders can expand the palate at a rate of 0.5 millimeters daily.
Implant-Supported Palate Expander
This palate expander requires the installation of four dental implants into the maxillary bone by an oral surgeon or periodontist. The implants will make the expander put pressure directly on the bone instead of the teeth.
Some expanders alter your teeth automatically, but others require you to manually turn a screw daily to widen the device. If your device is manual, follow the advice of Dr. Griffin and Dr. Errera to get the best results!
Who Needs Expanders?
Palate expanders help with overcrowding, crossbite, open bite, and other orthodontic complications, so you can have an easier time with oral hygiene, eating, communicating, and breathing, even before you begin braces treatment!
Patients of all ages can benefit from a palate expander. Still, they are most common in children because making changes to the still-developing bones of children is more straightforward than making changes to solidified adult bones. This difference in bone development allows children to spend as little as three months with the expander, but adults could spend around a year with one.
What Does Life With An Expander Like?
Though palate expanders might sound intimidating, we promise they’re not! They will help us transform your smile more effectively and successfully, getting you closer to the smile you’ve always wanted. To help ease your mind on what to expect, let’s check out some questions about orthodontic expanders that Dr. Griffin and Dr. Errera get asked frequently by patients and their parents.
Will my diet change?
Yep! When you have a palate expander, you must make minor adjustments to your diet. Since you are not to remove the expander when you eat, you must avoid food that can break, stick to, or damage the device. Essentially, you need to watch out for hard, crunchy, or sticky food. Chewing will likely take some practice when your expander is installed, but you can become a pro quickly if you follow the dietary guidelines.
Will the expander complicate my oral hygiene routine?
Nope! You will need to remember to brush your expander twice daily when brushing your teeth. We also recommend cleaning your expander after meal times.
Water flossers are a great tool to have as they clean every nook and cranny of your expander, keeping it in excellent condition, your breath fresh, and your teeth and gums healthy!
Do expanders hurt?
At Griffin & Errera Orthodontics, we pride ourselves on always being honest with our Middleburg, Culpepper, and Warrenton patients. Therefore, we must be truthful and say that you might experience discomfort and soreness with your expander when it is first installed and while your palate is expanding. Luckily, you can treat most of the uncomfortable side effects with over-the-counter pain medications.
You will also feel an odd tingling sensation in your nose when you manually turn the screw. This tingling fades within seconds and does not hurt, but it can initially be off-putting or alarming.
If your palate expander requires installation surgery, you will have additional side effects, like bruising, swelling, and numbness. They should fade as time passes, but unfortunately, their permanency is a risk of surgery.
Will it affect my speech?
In the beginning, you might struggle with speaking. Your tongue isn’t used to having metal in the way! However, with some practice, you won’t notice the expander when you talk, and those around you won’t realize you have it.
Do You Need An Expander? Visit Griffin & Errera Orthodontics To Find Out!
Schedule a free consultation with our board-certified orthodontists to learn what your or your child’s treatment program would look like! All our locations use state-of-the-art technology to ensure our orthodontists are working with all the information they need to ensure your and your loved one’s treatment is safe, efficient, and rewarding.
We can’t wait to meet you!