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Beecroft Orthodontics

Orthodontic Expanders and Lower Jaw

Can Orthodontic Expanders be used on the Lower Teeth to Avoid Extractions?

Beecroft Orthodontics

Photo Credit: Rob Swatski via Compfight cc

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.

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Beecroft Orthodontics, braces

Daily Life and Orthodontic Appliances

How will Braces, Expanders, Retainers, and Invisalign Affect my Life?

As you can imagine, with braces, expanders, retainers, or any other orthodontic appliance, there’s an adjustment period. And, you may have to do a few things in your life differently as you adjust.

I’ll discuss what to expect, changes you may experience, and how you can minimize any unwanted distractions or deviations from your daily life.

Braces

Here’s what you can expect:

  • A general soreness for about a week after the initial appointment and two
    to three days after the adjustment appointments.
  • Soreness in the teeth as well as lips and cheeks (from rubbing against the braces).
  • Food will get stuck in the braces. Be more diligent with brushing, flossing and your overall hygiene. If you aren’t, you can experience swelling, redness, inflammation of the gums, as well as the beginnings of cavities around the braces. This leaves a white ring around the braces that’s unsightly when the braces come off.
  • You’ll have to be more careful with activities where you may bump your lips like wrestling and football. When you play sports, wear a mouth guard. Now, you can’t wear normal mouth guards because they will not fit over the braces and the teeth. And, the mouth guards can’t be form-fitting because the teeth will move. You don’t want them to impede the movement of the teeth. Most orthodontists have special mouth guards for braces and different kits for keeping teeth clean.
  • I often hear: “Do I need to be worried about kissing my boyfriend or girlfriend who also has braces?” I can assure you I never heard of someone getting stuck to someone else with braces. Myth debunked.

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