An orthodontic expander is a device which also goes under the name of a palatal expander or a rapid maxillary expansion appliance.
1. It is used to expand the roof or palate of the mouth to create some space for permanent teeth come in so that there is no overlapping or overcrowding with the mouth area. If there is crowding around in the mouth with less of space in between them will give a very ungainly kind of a look. There is a misalignment in the teeth and they tend to grow up in a haphazard fashion.
2. Each expansion appliance is a custom made orthodontic appliance. It fits somewhere between the back teeth and after it has been stationed, it has to be tightened with a highly specialized key time and again by a specialist. This is to make wide the arch in small segments each time. A child may wear an expander for a period of three to six months after which he or she may have to go in for braces, if needed.
3. Orthodontic expansion appliances are of two varieties – removable and fixed. The first type is meant for children of mid-primary school going age. The fixed type is more suited for teenagers and young children. The expanders are available in three types. The first is hyrax which is a fixed expander. The superscrew variety allows the wearer himself or herself to turn it. The third is the quad helix type which is used when a double impact of expander treatment along with movement of back teeth is the ideal solution for correcting teeth placement.
4. Brushing and eating functions, if a person is wearing an expansion appliance, become slightly more difficult. Thus, it is recommended that sticky and gummy foods be eaten sparingly if one is using these.
5. If a child is wishing to widen a narrow upper jaw, it is best to take on expansion appliance when one is at the beginning of teen years. As a more grown up person, one may need this kind of treatment along with jaw surgery for the jaw line to widen.
6. The issues which can be sorted out with expansion appliance treatment are multiple. First crossbite problems get sorted out. Also, the upper jaw gets more expanded. More space is created in the upper jaw and there is spacing for new teeth to come in as well. By making use of expanders, one needs to use braces for a lesser duration of time than it is required otherwise.
7. Using expanders also means taking good oral care at the same time. Brushing and flossing are required to be done each day with proper strokes and movements. Cleaning aids for the expander, too, should be made use of in the manner prescribed by the orthodontist. At times food bits get stuck under the expander and these have to be cleaned with a water jet or a specialized syringe designed specifically for this purpose.