The upper teeth expander is fitted to help expand a narrow upper arch and obtain space to give room for crowded teeth to straighten.
You may expect the following after we fit the Orthodontic Expander:
- Temporary lisp or slurred speech
- Excess saliva for a few days
- Possible initial difficulty in chewing and swallowing
- Temporary irritation of the tongue
- Pressure on the teeth, palate and nose after adjustments
- Possible headache
- The “bite” may feel off
- Certain foods may catch on the orthodontic expander
- A temporary gap or space can appear between the upper front two teeth as expansion progresses. This is normal and a sign that of excellent treatment response and will close after expansion stops.
If you’re having any discomfort, you can take a pain reliever such as Panadol or Nurofen (ask your pharmacist for advice).
Remember that these symptoms are normal and only temporary. You will get used to the expander in no time!
While there are several types of orthodontic expanders to correct a narrow upper jaw and provide more space for crowded teeth, a more common type is a fixed expander that requires turning with a key, usually for a period of 28-35 days, or as adviced by your orthodontist.
- Make sure that your child has brushed his/her teeth prior to turning the expander so that you can easily insert the key into the hole.
- If nuts, seeds or hard food particles block the key hole, carefully clear the hole with a toothpick before turning.
- To make it easier to do the turn, get your child to lie on his/her back with the head over the arm of a sofa or at the edge of a bed. Get him/her to open as wide as possible.
- Use a torch so you can easily see what you are doing.
- Place the key in the centre hole until you feel it slot in. Once secure, turn towards the back of the mouth, until you see the next hole. It is a good idea to support the key handle with your other finger while doing the turn.
- To remove the key from the keyhole, gently slide the key in a downward direction. Pulling the key in an outward direction can cause separation of the metal portion which may be swallowed. Be careful not to “unturn” the expander when removing the key.
- Do not skip any days of turning the expander. Skipping a day may lengthen the time for expansion. However, if this happens, do not worry. Simply complete the scheduled time-cycle and add 1 more turn to the end. Remember to add this to your calender/ dairy and let your orthodontist know at your next visit with us!
Here are some tips on how you can take care of your Upper Expander:
- Maintain a soft diet for the first few days after receiving the expander. Mashed potatoes, pasta, ice cream and milkshake are great! Cut carrots and apples into small pieces to eat.
- Avoid hard foods like popcorn or nuts that might dislodge the expander as well as sticky foods like minties or caramel which is difficult to clean off the expander.
- Brush thoroughly after meals to keep the expander free of food and plaque.
- To clean your expander, firstly use your toothbrush and brush all around the expander, making sure not to miss any of the parts or metal wire extensions. Then use the pikster (small proxy brush) to clean underneath the expander, that is between the palate and expander as well as around the metal wires and bands on both the inside and outside surface.