expanders

Orthodontic Expanders and Lower Jaw

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

Beecroft Orthodontics

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

Phone: 540-898-2200

Orthodontic Expanders and Lower Jaw

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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

Beecroft Orthodontics, 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.

Retainers and Expanders

  • When it comes to talking, expect an adjustment period of a couple of days. You may have a little bit of a lisp, but this doesn’t happen with everyone. You may struggle speaking because those appliances are in the roof of your mouth so you can’t form some of your “S’s” and “T’s” by bringing your tongue to the roof of your mouth--causing a lisp. So, just read a book out loud for the first couple of days to speed up the process.
  • Food may get trapped underneath the appliance, so use a water pick. Water picks shoot out jets of water that tend to do a good job of getting rid of any unwanted leftover lunch from an expander or retainer. They are inexpensive and can be purchased at any one of your local stores.

Invisalign

Invisalign is nice because you can take it in and out, so you don’t have to be concerned about issues that can arise with braces, retainers and expanders.

You will wear the trays 20-22 hours each day, so some people find snacking and drinking less convenient. You should take out the trays to snack and drink. To avoid staining the trays, drink through a straw. And, rinse out your mouth after you snack before putting the trays back in.

I’m reminded of a patient I saw about a year ago who was an ER doctor, big triathlete, and exercise fanatic. She loved to sip on red Powerade all day long, but was really worried about staining her teeth. She ended up getting Invisalign but didn’t want the trays to turn red. So, I told her she could take the trays out, drink Powerade, then put the trays back in. But by doing that, she didn’t have the trays in for 22 hours of the day, so I recommended she drink through the straw. She tried that and it actually worked out really well.

It’s amazing how a minor tweak can make all the difference to accommodate your daily activities. Remember, these are minor tweaks, and you shouldn't see too much of a burden on your day-to-day life when it comes to braces, retainers, expanders or Invisalign.

Contact Beecroft Orthodontics today for any further information or questions that might still be troubling your mind or set up an appointment for your oral problems with our experienced team.

Beecroft Orthodontics, 10472 Georgetown Dr. Fredericksburg, Virginia

Phone: 540-898-2200

Daily Life and Orthodontic Appliances

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