Dental and orthodontic expanders are orthodontic tools used to gradually widen a narrow upper jaw. Expanders can be used independently or as a part of an orthodontic treatment plan. For individuals who suffer from a narrow upper palate and jaw, the benefits of improving upper jaw shape can improve general health and well-being.
Expanders are commonly used to correct upper jaw width in children and adolescents. When used with other orthodontic treatments such as braces, expanders can assist in the correct alignment of severely crooked teeth. Expanders are occasionally used for adults.
Here are just some of the amazing smile transformations achieved by the team at Glenferrie Orthodontics with orthodontic expanders.
Sometimes called rapid palatal expanders or rapid maxillary expanders, these are used to widen the upper jaw or palate. They are used to treat dental issues such as a narrow upper jaw, a crossbite (where the upper teeth fit inside the lower teeth), and crowding where teeth cannot erupt properly.
Fully customised for each patient, expanders are positioned on the roof of the mouth and apply outward pressure to the rear teeth (molars). Over time, this pressure will reposition the teeth and widen the upper palate.
Expanders work by gradually applying pressure to the upper jawbone through the upper rear teeth. The pressure creates space and allows the correction of crossbite and crowding due to a narrow upper jaw.
In children and adolescents, the upper jaw (maxilla) is still developing and the midline suture has not fully fused. When pressure is applied, this suture can be separated. Separation of the upper jaw can increase the available space for the upper teeth.
No, due to the anatomy of the lower jaw, orthodontic expanders are not used on the lower jaw.
The use of palate expanders in adults is uncommon and typically reserved for special cases. By adulthood, the upper jaw has fully formed and the midline suture has completed fused. The increased bone density in adults reduces the effectiveness of orthodontic expanders, which is why jaw surgery is required for adults to have successful expander treatment.
Most patients experience some discomfort when a palate expander is first installed and then when the expander is widened. This usually subsides in a few days and can be managed by over-the-counter pain medication.
Consultation: Your orthodontist will perform a thorough assessment and determine if an orthodontic expander is required.
Adjustments: Depending on your individual case, your orthodontist may provide you with the tools and instructions needed to adjust your expander.
Removing the expander: Once your orthodontist is satisfied that adequate expansion has been achieved, your expander will be removed.
Due to the unique nature of each case, costs can vary and our orthodontists will discuss the treatment and costs with you during your consultation.
Most orthodontic expanders are worn for 6 - 12 months. The duration of treatment depends on the individual case and the type of dental expander worn.
In some cases, your orthodontist may recommend a retainer to be worn after the dental expander to ensure the widening of the upper jaw has stabilized.
No, expanders are not covered by Medicare.
Some private health insurance policies allow a portion of orthodontic treatment to be claimed under ‘extras cover’. We recommend checking with your private health insurance provider. If you aren’t sure you can always speak to your orthodontist during your consultation.
Early examination allows the Orthodontist to detect and evaluate any problems and plan appropriate treatment. Early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing and/or make treatment at an older age shorter and less complicated.