Some Braces for Kids Start with Orthodontic Expanders

Known as early orthodontics or interceptive orthodontics, expanders make it possible to open a child’s mouth and allow for the proper eruption of crowded adult teeth. Young children are the best candidates for these braces for kids and going through this brief but intense treatment makes all the difference in later orthodontics and oral health.

The Orthodontic Expander Timeline

Palatal expanders are worn for at least six months and sometimes up to one year. The widening of the jaw and palate often takes only a few weeks, but the appliance must be left in place for much longer to avoid relapse. This orthodontic expander timeline will vary for every patient at your Center City orthodontist depending on the severity of their circumstances and how much movement is needed.

What Does an Expander Do?

The palatal expander is the most common and it is anchored to the back upper molars. This device helps to match both upper and lower teeth and create room for the permanent teeth to erupt normally and safely without damaging, crowding, or pushing other teeth out of the way. Thanks to a custom-made expander, teeth get closer to their proper positions so when they knock out the baby teeth and move into the mouth, less orthodontic intervention is necessary to fix it.

Who Needs an Expander?

Expanders are typically reserved for young children, around age 7 or 8. This is the ideal age to treat a narrow upper jaw and crowded teeth because all the baby teeth have not yet been lost and the connective tissues and muscle fibers are more pliable. Widening the upper jaw and creating room for adult teeth is easier to do when the jaws have not solidified yet.

How Does an Orthodontic Expander Move the Palate?

Parents and kids will have to put in some work with the expander for a few weeks. A “key” is used to make miniscule turns of the appliance morning and night and open the palate further each time. This action leaves a gap between the front teeth which is a relief for parents who want confirmation that they’re doing their “job” correctly.

Braces and the Palatal Expander

Once the expander has done its work and all the turns are complete, braces are added to the child’s teeth. In most cases, only four brackets are attached to the front four teeth and that’s it. Wires are used over the next several months to shift teeth and the palate into proper alignment. These movements – and the expander staying in place – allow for the maturation of the mouth into its permanent position.

After the Orthodontic Expander

When the expander is removed, the braces will stay. Once brackets are removed, a retainer must be worn to keep all that hard work in the right location until all baby teeth have been lost and it’s time for a full course of braces or Invisalign. This should only last about 18 months or so, depending on other misalignment problems.

Expanders aren’t always easy to wear, but they do important work that change a child’s mouth permanently for the better. Find out if these braces for kids are right for your child. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Roberts or Dr. de Marsche in Center City, Philadelphia.