Can Orthodontic Expanders be used on the Lower Teeth to Avoid Extractions?
An orthodontic expander, also commonly referred to as a “palate-widening device,” is commonly used on the top teeth to create space in between the teeth. The device, which is secured around one tooth on each side of the top of the mouth, gradually creates space in the top of the teeth through the course of a few weeks or months. By spacing out the palate, the teeth have more room to shift, which is ideal for patients who plan to get braces. Because the orthodontic expanders create more room at the top of the teeth, it lowers the chances of needing to extract teeth as a method of creating space as well. Since orthodontic expanders are successfully used to create room on the upper teeth, can’t the same method be used to resolve crowding with the bottom?
An orthodontist is able to use an expander device on the upper teeth because of the mid-palatal suture in the upper arch of our mouths. The palate can be expanded if there is soft cartilage in the suture. Each time the expander is activated, either at home or by an orthodontist specialist, a gap between the front teeth develops as the teeth space out. But when an expander is used on the lower arch of the teeth, there is no such suture, which doesn’t allow them the chance to expand.
The lower arch of the teeth have plates, but they are not similar to that of the upper teeth. They are near the joints, which doesn’t allow the palate to widen. The teeth may shift and move, but it will not be a result of a widened palate creating additional space. However, an alternative to the expander device is a a removable retainer device, which has an expansion screw built in, similar to the palate expanders. While there are several alternate ways for the lower arches of teeth, it’s important to realize that this will not be shifting bones, but rather just “tipping” teeth. Some orthodontists may even attempt to place springs in the lower arch with wires on the back of the teeth to get them to space out.
If these methods aren’t available to you, extraction may be your only option to create space in the lower arch. The dentist typically removes two to four teeth to create the space needed, and the area will be numbed with anesthesia beforehand. The recovery time for extracted teeth is fairly quick, and you will be sent home with gauze and pain relievers to help you get through the following days. The dentist or orthodontist may recommend you only eat soft foods in this time. Your teeth may begin to gradually move on their own once the area has healed.
If you have additional questions about expansion devices, flaring and tipping the teeth, or your options for creating space in the lower arch of your teeth, contact our orthodontist at Beecroft Orthodontics today to schedule a consultation and determine which method of treatment is the right one for you and your smile.
Beecroft Orthodontics, 10472 Georgetown Dr. Fredericksburg, Virginia
Orthodontic Expanders and Lower Jaw