Orthodontic Expanders and Lower Teeth Extractions

Gif courtesy of giphy.com

Gif courtesy of giphy.com

No one likes to lose teeth. However, in some cases, a patient’s lower jaw isn’t wide enough or positioned correctly to accommodate all 32 teeth. Faced with having teeth removed, many people ask Fredericksburg orthodontics experts if orthodontic expanders can be used instead of pulling the teeth. Orthodontists commonly use expanders on the upper arch of the mouth. Can they be used on the lower arch? The answer depends on the patient’s age and their dental problem. Plus some are candidates for the Invisalign Fredericksburg orthodontics use.

The Mid-Palatal Suture

Expanders have long been successfully used to expand the mouth’s upper arch. This is possible because the upper arch has a mid-palatal suture. In young teens, the suture hasn’t completely hardened and is somewhat flexible. If the patient’s suture is soft, it can be gradually expanded in very small increments over months or years.

Orthodontists have several options. They include:

  • Dental Expanders
  • Braces
  • Uprighting
  • Flaring
  • Extraction
  • Sagittal Appliances
  • Lip Bumpers

Expanders and Teens

In young patients, a gap sometimes develops between the two upper front teeth. This is a sign that the suture has been opened. In some cases, instead of the suture opening to accommodate the new teeth, the crowns of the teeth are tipped outward. In patients where the suture has already closed, there is no space between the front teeth. For an orthodontist to create space in the mouth, they have to tip the teeth outward, towards the cheek. To do this, the orthodontist may employ an expander with an expansion screw. This puts constant pressure on the teeth and forces them to tip outwards. However, if your interest is in Invisalign Fredericksburg, Stafford, and King George has to offer several good orthodontists can help.

Dentist V Orthodontist | Beecroft Orthodontist Specialists in Fredericksburg

The Lower Arch

The lower portion of the oral cavity is constructed differently from the upper portion. There is no suture to which you can apply pressure and cause it to open. In the lower arch, the growth plates are near the joints and far away from the teeth. In order to create space for the growth of new and expanding teeth, orthodontists commonly move the teeth outwards or straighten them if they are growing at the wrong angle. However, this is only possible if there is enough gum and bone around the base of the tooth to be moved.

Uprighting and Flaring

If the teeth are tilted inwards and are causing a problem in the lower arch, the orthodontist can use a process called uprighting to straighten the growth path of the tooth and eliminate the problem. A process called flaring is used to force the lower teeth outward to correct the problem in the lower arch. Orthodontists have a variety of processes they can use to upright or flare teeth in the arch in the lower part of the oral cavity and eliminate the problem of crowding in the mouth. Some use removable retainers which have a built-in expansion screw. These are called sagittal appliances. The use of lip bumpers is another option orthodontist have for uprighting or flaring teeth in the lower arch.

Other Options

There are a number of other methods orthodontists use to change the direction in which teeth in the lower arch of the oral cavity. Some use the Invisalign Fredericksburg, Stafford, and King George orthodontists offer. A number of orthodontists simply place a piece of wire behind the tooth with a spring attached. Still others employ banded expanders fitted with jackscrews similar to the ones used in the upper arch. While all of the dental appliances and techniques create space in the lower arch, most of them do so by tipping the teeth in one direction or another and not by moving the bone.

Photo credit: Brian J. Henry / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Brian J. Henry / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Fixed Dental Appliances

Many orthodontists agree using braces or other fixed dental appliances is the most efficient way to both tip the teeth and align them simultaneously. The wires and springs in the braces are threaded over the teeth and create the expansive force that is used to move the teeth apart. This is a tacit acknowledgement that in order to resolve the problem of crowding in the lower arch, tipping or extraction are the only options for some young people and most adults. The supporting bones and gums around the teeth that need to be realigned or removed determine which method will be used.

The lower arch’s size and shape are determined by the genetics of the patient. The role of the orthodontist is to carefully consider the options and make a determination as to which method will produce healthy, attractive, stable teeth and oral arches. Orthodontists today can draw on a number of technologies to aid them in making this decision. Many use 3D imaging to see the bone which overlays on the teeth’s roots and measure its height and thickness. This enables them to make the best decision possible as to how the creation of space in the oral cavity will be done.

Helpful Software

There’s a software which can be used to create digital models of the teeth, supporting bones and surrounding gums. These models can then be used to show what will happen to the teeth and the lower arch over time based on the orientation of the teeth in question. This enables the orthodontist to consider several scenarios and treatment options and make an accurate decision as to which is best suited for the dental patient. These simulations also save people from unnecessary dental surgery and enable them to keep their teeth when tipping, which proves to be the best option.

For the average adult, those expanders are not a viable option. The expanders can be used in some cases to prevent extraction, but not in every case. Your orthodontist can do an examination and let you know if you are fortunate enough to be able to use orthodontic expanders to solve the problem in your oral cavity’s lower arch. Call Beecroft Orthodontist now to see is you’re a candidate!

Orthodontic Expanders and Lower Teeth Extractions

Beecroft Orthodontics – 10472 Georgetown Dr, Fredericksburg, VA22553 Phone: 540 898 2200

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