Imagine you’re an architect, and a client asks you to build a beautiful, spacious house on a narrow plot. You would consider widening the available land if you don’t have enough space. In the world of orthodontics, we face a similar situation when dealing with narrow or crowded jaws.
But here’s the good news: Hemphill Orthodontics in Celina has a tool that can do just that! It’s called a rapid palatal expander. It helps create room for a perfect smile. In this blog post, we’ll take you through the ins and outs of life with an expander, from understanding its purpose to navigating daily experiences. This way, especially if you’ve been told your child may need an expander, you can attend your first appointment with Dr. Hemphill ahead of the curve!
What is a Palatal Expander?
A palatal expander, which widens the upper jaw or palate, creates more space for permanent teeth to grow correctly. It’s a common orthodontic appliance for children and adolescents whose jaws are still developing.
The expander applies gentle pressure to the two halves of the upper jaw, which are naturally separated in early childhood. This pressure encourages the jaw to widen over time, improving alignment and allowing for a healthier, more balanced smile.
Patients might need a palatal expander for several reasons. Some have narrow or overcrowded jaws that can lead to issues like crossbites, where the upper teeth bite inside the lower ones. Others might have impacted teeth, which are teeth that can’t erupt properly due to lack of space.
In these cases, an expander can create the necessary room for teeth to align correctly, preventing more complex orthodontic issues in the future. It’s a proactive approach that can significantly impact a patient’s oral health journey.
Remember, every patient is unique, and at Hemphill Orthodontics, we tailor our treatment plans to each individual’s needs. If an expander is recommended, it’s because it’s the best way to help you or your child achieve a healthier, more confident smile.
What To Expect When You’re Expanding
The process of getting a palatal expander is straightforward and carefully managed to provide maximum comfort. Hemphill Orthodontics begins with a detailed examination of your child’s mouth, using advanced imaging technology to understand their unique dental structure.
Once we’ve determined that an expander is the best course of action, we’ll take a digital scan of your child’s teeth, used to create a custom device to fit his or her mouth perfectly. The expander is typically attached to the upper molars using dental bands, and there is a small adjustment screw in the center of the device.
During the fitting process, our team takes every measure to ensure your child is comfortable and understands what’s happening. We’ll provide detailed instructions on adjusting the expander at home, which involves turning the screw a tiny amount each day to widen the jaw gradually.
It’s important to note that while patients may feel slight pressure or discomfort during adjustments, this sensation is temporary and typically subsides quickly. We’re always available to address any concerns and adjust the treatment plan as needed to keep the process as comfortable as possible.
Getting an expander is a significant step towards a healthier, more balanced smile. At Hemphill Orthodontics, we’re committed to making this journey a positive experience for you and your child.
The Expanded Life
Adjusting to life with a palatal expander is a process, but with a bit of time and patience, it becomes a regular part of your child’s daily routine. Initially, your child might experience a feeling of pressure or discomfort right after the expander is tightened. This sensation is normal and usually fades within a few minutes to a few hours.
Your child may notice a change in their speech or eating habits in the first few days. These changes are temporary as the tongue and mouth adapt to the new appliance. Encourage your child to practice speaking and eating slowly to speed up this adjustment period.
One common concern is the appearance of a gap between the front teeth. This gap is a positive sign that the expander is working, gradually moving the two halves of the palate apart. Once the active widening of the expander ceases and treatment progresses, usually, this space will naturally return to the initial state.
It’s also essential to reassure your child that having an expander is a normal part of many people’s orthodontic journeys. Remind them that this phase is temporary and is a significant step towards achieving a healthier, more beautiful smile.
At Hemphill Orthodontics, we understand that every child’s experience is unique. We’re here to provide support and guidance every step of the way, addressing any concerns and offering tips to make life with an expander as smooth as possible. Remember, we aim to create beautiful smiles and help our patients feel comfortable and confident throughout their orthodontic journey.
Expander Maintenance and Care
Proper care and maintenance of the expander are crucial to the success of the treatment. Encourage your child to brush around the expander, paying special attention to the area where the expander meets the gums. Using a water flosser or an interdental (read “between the teeth”) brush can help clean hard-to-reach areas. Regular rinsing with mouthwash can also help keep the expander clean. It’s also essential to avoid hard or sticky foods that could damage the expander (bye-bye to Doritos and Butterfingers). Regular check-ups at Hemphill Orthodontics will ensure the expander functions correctly and the treatment progresses as planned.
Palatal Expanders At Hemphill Orthodontics
Navigating the orthodontic treatment journey with a palatal expander can initially seem daunting. Still, with the proper guidance and understanding, it becomes a manageable part of your child’s path to a healthier smile. At Hemphill Orthodontics in Celina, Dr. Hemphill and our amazing team remain dedicated to making this process as comfortable and beneficial as possible, providing personalized care every step of the way. Remember, this journey is a temporary phase with a long-lasting reward – a beautiful, confident smile for your child. Go here to schedule a free consultation.