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Does My Child Need an Orthodontic Expander Before Braces?

If your child needs an orthodontic expander, using one can bring significant benefits down the road. But how do you know if an expander is necessary and what type is best for them?

It all depends on your child’s mouth and treatment plan. For example, some children need expanders to correct a narrow palate or crossbite. Others may require them to create more space for crowded teeth, while some children won’t need one at all.

This article will discuss if a child needs an expander before getting braces and which type of expander might be best for them.

What Is an Orthodontic Expander?

An orthodontic expander is a device used to expand or widen your child’s jaw or palate. This extra space allows their adult teeth to grow normally. There are two types of expanders, including:

  • Removable: A removable expander is a small device your child can take in and out of their mouth. This type of expander is for children who have a narrow palate.
  • Fixed: A fixed expander bonds to the back molars and cannot be removed without an orthodontist. This expander is for children with more severe issues.

Your child may need an expander if:

  • They have a narrow palate: A narrow palate can crowd the teeth and cause problems with speech and chewing.
  • They have a crossbite: This occurs when the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth, which can lead to tooth wear and gum disease.
  • They have severe bite issues: When the teeth don’t meet properly, it can cause pain and difficulty chewing.

What Are the Benefits of an Orthodontic Expander?

If your child needs an expander, there are several benefits to using one, including:

  • Creating more space for crowded teeth: This can help prevent the need for extractions in the future.
  • Improving speech: An expander can help with speech problems caused by a narrow palate.
  • Correcting a crossbite: This can help improve the function of the teeth and prevent gum disease.
  • Preparing for braces: An expander can help create more space for the teeth, making braces more effective.

Helping Your Child Get Used to an Orthodontic Expander

It is common for children to feel uncomfortable or have trouble speaking clearly when they first start using an expander. However, these feelings usually go away after a few days.

To help your child acclimate to their new expander:

  • Start with short periods: If removable, have your child wear the expander for 30 minutes to an hour at a time.
  • Provide soft foods: To avoid irritating the gums, give your child soft foods to eat while adjusting to their new expander.
  • Encourage positive thinking: Help your child see their expander as a positive thing that will help their teeth and jaws grow correctly.

Final Thoughts

If you’re unsure if your child needs an expander, talk to their orthodontist. They will be able to assess your child’s mouth and create a treatment plan that is best for them.

Dr. Maria Yazji is an award-winning orthodontist dedicated to helping children achieve beautiful, healthy smiles. Contact us today if you have any questions about expanders or want to schedule a consultation for Weston, Brickell, or West Miami. We look forward to hearing from you!

About the Author Maria Yazji

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