Life With An Expander

When people think of orthodontics and straightening smiles, they often think of braces and clear aligners. But did you know those are not the only tools we have at Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics to create the smile of your dreams? We also have expanders! If you’re wondering what that is and what life with an expander looks like, keep reading!

What Is An Expander?

Teeth, like people, sometimes need a bit more room to shine. When they’re squished together, they can’t align properly. 

An expander is a dental device designed to widen the upper jaw to ensure ample space for teeth to be adequately spaced and correctly placed. It sits on the roof of the mouth. Over time, the expander gently stretches the bone and cartilage, making room for a more harmonious smile. Your bone will then form new bone to fill the gap and make the expansion permanent. Isn’t that cool?

Though patients of all ages can benefit from a palate expander,  younger patients are the most common recipients. Because children’s bones have not yet solidified and the two halves of their palate have not fused together, it is easier to make adjustments.

How Will An Expander Affect My Day-To-Day?

Fortunately, your expander will not change your daily routine too much. Let’s look at common questions patients and parents have about palate expanders.

1.) What Does It Feel Like?

Having a new device in your mouth can feel unusual at first. It’s like wearing a new pair of shoes; they might initially feel unfamiliar but mold to your feet with time. Similarly, your mouth will acclimate to the expander, and soon, you’ll barely notice it’s there.

If you feel a slight pressure, don’t worry! This is normal, especially after adjustments, and is a sign that the expander is doing its job of creating a more aligned and spacious dental structure. Over-the-counter pain relievers and cold compresses can provide relief during these times. And if you ever feel unsure, your orthodontist is just a call away, ready to assist.

2.) Will Eating Be Difficult?

When you have a palate expander, you must make some minor diet modifications. You will need to avoid food that can break, stick to, or damage the appliance (such as overly hard, chewy, or sticky foods). Chewing might take some practice with your expander in place, but you’ll become a pro fairly quickly.

It helps to remember that these dietary changes are only temporary, and soon you’ll be able to eat all the things your heart desires! At Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics, we try to encourage patients to use their time in the palate expander as an opportunity to explore new foods you might not have otherwise given a second thought. 

Most patients quickly adjust, and we feel confident you will too!

3.) What Will My Oral Hygiene Routine Look Like?

Your oral hygiene routine will stay pretty much the same! All you will have to do is ensure your palate expander remains clean. You can do this by brushing your palate expander with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing with interproximal brushes. 

A water flosser is an excellent investment for patients with fixed expanders. These devices use water jets to rinse out your expander’s hard-to-reach places. Once you have completed your expander experience, the water flosser can help you keep your teeth and gums squeaky clean and healthy during and after braces, too!

4.) Will I Still Be Able To Talk?

Yes, of course, but it might be slightly challenging in the beginning. 

The expander occupies an area the tongue frequently touches, especially when forming certain sounds. As a result, you might develop a temporary lisp, increased salivation, and unintentional mumbling. 

Reading aloud can help you improve your confidence and conquer any communication difficulties faster. With some practice and time, you’ll forget about the expander and be able to talk without issue. 

5.) How Often Is My Expander Adjusted?

Your expander is expanded daily, though that doesn’t mean you’ll have to come to see us every day! 

While a few palate expanders widen your teeth automatically, most require manually turning a screw once daily or a few times per week  to enlarge the device. You will receive a special key to turn the screw in your expander. It takes only seconds per day and is not painful. The most you will feel from these adjustments is a slight tingling sensation that fades as fast as it comes!

Expanders can be worn for as little as three months or as long as one year! However long you are with your expander, it’s not long when you think about the lifetime of enjoyment you’ll get from your new smile!

Visit Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics!

Each of our orthodontists at Dietrich & Kelso Orthodontics prides themselves on creating personalized treatment plans for every patient. Schedule a free consultation with us today at one of our convenient locations to discover what your orthodontic journey would entail!