How To Use Your Child’s New Expander

What Is An Expander? How Does It Work?

An expander is a metal device used to widen the upper jaw. This appliance makes more room for teeth that might be crowded or corrects a bite that doesn't line up properly. It fits over the top molars and is held in place with a special glue. The key feature of an expander is a small screw in the middle that, when turned according to your orthodontist's instructions, gently pushes the molars apart. This slight pressure encourages the jawbone to widen and makes extra space in the mouth. The whole process usually takes about 9 months, with regular adjustments along the way to ensure everything is moving as it should. This early orthodontic treatment in McLean is particularly effective for kids and teenagers since their jaws are still growing and can easily adapt to these changes.

How Do I Turn My Child's Expander?

To turn your child's dental expander, have them lie down with their head off the edge of a bed or sofa. Encourage your child to open their mouth to prevent a gag reflex and find a good light to make sure you can see the expander clearly. Find the hole in the center of the expander and insert the key. Then, gently turn the key in the direction of the arrows on the device until the next hole comes into view, which means you've made a complete turn. When removing the key, do so gently in a downward and backward motion to avoid undoing the turn. Perform this step every night and follow the specific recommendations given by your orthodontist until they let you know that the expander has been adjusted enough. 

What Can I Expect With My Child's New Expander?

When your child gets a new expander, you can expect a few changes as they adjust to it. Initially, their speech might sound a bit funny, but this is temporary and improves with time. They might also produce more saliva than usual and feel some tightness or a tingling sensation on their molars and across the bridge of their nose right after the expander is adjusted. This feeling usually fades within a few minutes. As the expander is turned, it creates a small space between the teeth with each adjustment. Over time, this can lead to a gap between the front teeth, but don't worry, this gap will start to close once the adjustments are finished. About two weeks after starting, you'll have a follow-up appointment with the orthodontist to check on the progress. This is all part of the process to ensure your child's teeth and jaw develop correctly, leading to a healthier smile.

If the expander loosens, it's important to schedule a visit for reattachment. Avoid attempting to adjust or remove the expander yourself. We’re happy to help you and your child as soon as possible. If you have any other questions or concerns regarding expanders, please don't hesitate to give us a call (703) 356-8781