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Understanding Orthodontic Expansion

Understanding Orthodontic Expansion

While braces continue to be one of the most common ways to align teeth in the jaw, orthodontic expansion is another option. Essentially, a device widens the maxilla or upper jaw so that the upper teeth align with the lower teeth. Braces are used afterward to bring the teeth back together. The process only works for children, which we will explain below.

How orthodontic expansion works

The whole point of orthodontic expansion is to ensure that your jaw has enough room for all of your teeth to come in. So, an orthodontic appliance is used to expand the upper jaw bone. When teeth come in snaggled, it’s generally because there is not enough room inside the mouth. They then erupt on top of one another or are pushed up in the mouth. In some cases, the tooth never erupts at all and lays sideways in the jaw which can damage surrounding teeth.

This process only works in children up to 16 years of age. By the time you’ve reached adulthood, the suture in the upper jaw that allows for orthodontic expansion has closed. This means that adults with similar requirements will need surgical intervention.

Orthodontic palate expanders

One of the reasons why dentists are so feared is because many of our devices look like medieval torture tools. This is unfortunate. The vast majority of patients who have recently had orthodontic palate expanders installed do not complain of pain. Palatal expanders should not cause pain. Some patients, however, experience discomfort when speaking or swallowing. This, however, should pass.

What are orthodontic expanders used for?

Orthodontic expanders can be used to correct a number of issues, but the main issue involved is allowing the teeth to align properly. This can have a beneficial impact on the overall aesthetics of your face and mouth, and avoid asymmetry that may be unsightly. Conditions treated by orthodontic expansion include:

  • Crossbite issues

    – Your upper teeth should close around your lower teeth. Some people are the opposite, though. This can cause dental and aesthetic issues which are corrected with orthodontic expansion.
  • Overcrowding of teeth

    – If your upper jaw isn’t large enough to accommodate all of your teeth, they will begin to grow over the top of one another. This can result in aesthetic issues, but also periodontal disease. Your teeth can protect one another from cavities, but spaces between them accrue plaque and bacteria quickly.
  • Mouth-breathing

    – A narrow upper jaw can make it more difficult to breathe through your nose resulting in unfiltered air in your lungs. This causes dry mouth and other periodontal issues which can quickly damage teeth.

Talk to a Flagstaff, AZ Dentist Concerning Orthodontic Expansion

Peak Family Dental is here to answer any questions you have about orthodontic expansion for your children. The process can improve not only the aesthetics of the face, but also the overall health of your mouth, teeth, and gums. To learn more, call us today. We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have!

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