5 Common Questions About Orthodontic Jaw Expanders

Are you being told by your orthodontist that your child needs a jaw expander? This can leave you with many questions about what they are and what they do. Here are the basics that you need to know about jaw expanders before you decide if one is right for your child.

What Are Jaw Expanders?

The purpose of a jaw expander is to widen the upper jaw, which will make more space for teeth. The device works by gently applying pressure to the upper jaw, which actually encourages bone tissue to grow. The new bone tissue grows in the spaces opened up by the jaw expander, and the teeth can start growing in a new position.

What Types Of Jaw Expanders Exist? 

You'll find that there are two types of jaw expanders that can be used to accomplish the same result. A removable expander is much like a retainer, and can easily be taken out for brushing your teeth and eating. The other type of a fixed jaw expander, which is attached to a patient's mouth by attaching it to rear molars with bands. The jaw expander cannot be removed until the orthodontic treatment is complete.

How Do Fixed Jaw Expanders Work? 

A fixed jaw expander will require regular visits to the dentist to have the jaw expander adjusted. There is a crank that can be turned to make the jaw wider slightly in small increments at a time. There is some discomfort after the initial adjustment, but it will feel better as time goes on and your jaw gets used to it. A retainer-style jaw expander is going to work in a similar way with small adjustments being made to it. 

What Are The Benefits Of A Jaw Expander? 

Your orthodontist is likely recommending a jaw expander for at least one of several reasons. For example, they may have a narrow upper jaw that causes a lisp. A child may simply need more space for teeth or want to improve the appearance of their teeth by making their smile more symmetrical.

Are Other Dental Appliances Used With A Jaw Expander?

It's possible that an orthodontist will want to correct other problems at the same time as the jaw expander is being used. If your child has a problem with tongue thrusting that pushes their front teeth forward, a tongue cage may be used in conjunction to ensure that those front teeth remain in the same position.  

For more info, contact a local orthodontist