Teeth Expanders: Does My Child Need One?
Hey there, parents! Wondering if your little one needs a teeth expander? We’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll dive into all things related to teeth expanders for kids.
So if your child is between the ages of five and sixteen and you or your dentist is noticing crowded teeth, impacted teeth or other bad bite symptoms, you may want to pay close attention and read on.
Let’s jump right in and get all your questions and concerns answered!
What are teeth expanders?
Teeth expanders (professionally known as palate expanders) is a device that are used to widen the jaw and create more space inside the mouth in order to treat or prevent common bad bites. They are custom made to your childs mouth for a perfect fit so a mold will most likely be needed.
Teeth expanders have been proven to be a great preventative to much more serious dental/ oral health problems that could arise if your child’s teeth are not developing properly. There have been many cases when we were able to avoid costly surgical procedures for kids by detecting bad bites early on and started treatments on time using expanders.
Reasons a child might need to get a palate expander
The most common reasons a dentist or orthodontist may recommomed using a teeth expander is if they are noticing signs of:
So if you are noticing crookedness in your child’s teeth or x-rays are showing your child’s adult teeth are having a hard time coming out, then your dentist may recommend using a palatal expander.
In other much more rare situations, an expander can also be used to correct breathing restrictions.
Depending on your child’s specific situation, your dentist may only recommend an upper expander or both upper and lower in order to correct the malocclusion (bad bite) issues.
How the palate expander works
Since the expander is custom made, it’s designed to fit snug in your child’s mouth and securing itself using the permanent first molars, the primary molars, and primary cuspids. The frame is usually made of stainless steel and acrylic with turnable screws – that’s where the adjustments are made.
With set intervals directed by your dentist, you as the parent will need to turn this screw with the provided key, which expands the device thus placing a set amount of pressure on the jaw causing a natural expansion of your child’s jaw.
By adjusting the screw as instructed, the palatal expander slowly and safely expands the jaw.
Since your child’s jaw is still developing, the steady pressure from the expander makes it much easier to widen the jaw safely and effectively.
During this orthopedic treatment, your child you be seeing the dentist regulary (around once a month) to monitor progress and make any adjustements to the expander itself. Sometimes re-tightening of the stainless steel bands may be needed as your child’s jaws begin to widen.
When is the best time to get a palate expander?
The best time to start this type of treamtent is as soon as any signs of bad bite start to appear (i.e crowding, impacted teeth, crossbite) and when your child’s jaw is still soft and developing and has not fully matured into bone yet.
There is a fibrous layer on the upper, middle area of the jaw called a suture. This suture connects the left and right halfs together and during normal growth the upper jaw get wider. As your child grows older around their teens, this fibrous layer turns into bone.
So if you haven’t guessed yet, the best time is before your child turns 10!
If your child is older than ten, the expander may have a harder time achieving the desired results and hopefully not but possible, surgery may be needed.
How long do teeth expanders last?
The amount of time a child may need a palate expander depends on many factors such as age, severity of the bad bite, and if they are wearing their expander as instructed. Usually this treatment last around 5-9 months.
Do not try to shorten the time by making “extra” adjustments to the expander in order to make the process quicker. This will only cause uncomfortable amount of pain to your child’s jaw and even discourage them from wearing them since it will cause them pain.
Further extending the time needed for the expanders to do thier job.
How much does a teeth expander cost?
The cost of a palate expander treatment is far less than a surgical procedure, so the cost of the expander is well worth it in the long run.
You can expect to pay between $1,200 – $2,500 depending on the level and lenght of treament.
Taking preventative action here is the point! The cost of surgery and even braces is far more than the cost of getting expanders. So if your child qualifies for getting expanders, consider it a blessing.
What to expect after getting palate expanders
Since this appliance stays in your child’s mouth, you may notice a few things especially in the beginning such as:
These are all very common and as your child gets used to the expander, these symptoms should go away.
If you notice a lisp it’s because your child just has to get used to talking with the expander in place. Have them read a book out loud and talk to your child more often to get them used to it quicker.
The soreness is very common and it’s because of the pressure that is being placed on the jaw. Your child may complain about this but just ask them to wait about 5 minutes and the sensation of pain should go away.
Drooling is another common thing you may notice your child do. This is more of a personal thing and just need to be mindful of. The best thing you can do as the parent is to encourage your child to keep wearing them as instructed.
The more he/she wears it, the quicker he/she will get used to them and sooner they won’t need them.
Daily cleaning and brushing of the expanders is also a must!
Make sure your child is cleaning them daily to get rid of stuck-on food to avoid the build up of bacteria and odor.
Don’t expect your child to wear them 24/7 at least in the beginning. After all this is completly new to them so just encourage them to wear them, and explain why it’s necessary in a way he/she will understand.
Is a palate expander really necessary?
If your dentist or orthodontist is recommending a palatal expander treatment it’s for good reason. Teeth expanders are a tried and true orthopedic device that have saved many children from costly surgery in order to correct crowded teeth, impacted teeth, crossbite and other bite-related issues.
One of the advantages of getting started early is to avoid the surgical route. The sooner this treatment is started the higher the chances of success.
Palate expanders not only improve your child’s smile but also self-esteem and self-confidence!
Especially as they see the positive changes from their treatment.
If you find yourself wondering if palate expanders are right for your child in Rockford IL, contact us.
Here at The Teeth People we are more than happy to address any concerns you may have about expanders and your kiddos dental development. The best preventative is to schedule regular dental cleanings!
They help detect any possible issues early on before things get worse.
If you’re concerned if your child may need an expander, schedule an appointment with Dr. Chung and get an honest, professional opinion from a highy trusted dentist in Rockford, IL.
Meet Dr. Chung, DDS
Dr. Thomas Chung is a licensed dentist practicing in the Rockford, IL area. Voted best dentist in Rockford 4 years running. “I love helping everyone feel welcome and enjoy helping my patients overcome their dental fears”