Phase 1 Orthodontic Treatment

How we use technology to eliminate unpopular dental procedures

February 8th, 2021

Perhaps you have memories of sitting in a dental chair anxiously waiting for a dental impression (dental mold).  Memories of a cold, gooey mixture inching closer down your throat. Memories of drool hanging off the edge of your lip while the mold is held in place. The very thought of it for some people will make them gag!

We have good news for you: meet the intraoral scanner. While this technology has been out for some time, it is still not universally used. Here are some information about what it is and how it will make your trip to the orthodontist much better.

Dr. Zach Frazier, orthodontist in Downers Grove, with a 3D tooth scanner used for braces and Invisalign treatment.

  1. What is 3D digital intraoral scanner?

    1. It is a high-tech video camera that captures images of your teeth to create a 3D digital model of your teeth.
  2. Does it use any radiation like an x-ray?

    1. No radiation is used - it is simply a video camera that stitches many images together to create the 3D image of your teeth.
  3. How long does it take to have your teeth scanned?

    1. It depends on the experience of the user, but in most cases it will take less than 5 minutes to get a full scan of all of your upper and lower teeth.
  4. What do you do with the 3D image?

    1. We can use the image in lots of ways. We can use it to diagnose your bite or create 3D printed physical models of your teeth. With the printed models, we can make all sorts of orthodontic appliances and retainers without ever having to take a dental mold.
  5. Do you still have to take a mold to get retainers?

    1. No way : ) Our patients do not have to have dental impressions taken at any time.
  6. Can this be used for Invisalign clear aligner treatment?

    1. Yes! Additionally the aligners will be better fitting as a 3D intraoral scanner is more accurate than traditional dental molds.

We absolutely love the 3D intraoral scanners in our office. Treatment is dramatically more comfortable for our patients leading to a better experience. Additionally, we are getting more accurate orthodontic appliances which leads to better treatment and reduced time spent at the orthodontist. Finally, it is great form an environmental standpoint as there are fewer steps, fewer appointments, and less waste by using the scanner.

If you're interested in pursuing braces treatment or you are considering Invisalign clear aligner treatment, make sure you visit an orthodontist with a 3D intraoral scanner. You will thank me later ; )

Thumbs, Fingers, and Pacifiers: Kick the Habit

September 6th, 2020

All of us are born with the innate sucking reflex. It is needed to survive as an infant and helps us eat as babies. As we develop, some babies will use a thumb, finger, or a pacifier as a comforting mechanism. However, at some point, this habit can start to cause harm to the developing teeth and bones of the mouth.

At what age do kids need to stop sucking thumbs or using pacifiers?
- Depending on how much sucking pressure your child uses on his thumb or pacifier, you may start to see changes as soon as age 2-4 years old. You may notice flaring of the front teeth and changes to the shape of the smile. Typically, these changes can self-correct if the child is done with the habit by age 6 before the adult teeth start to erupt.

Why do we need to break the habit?
- The habit can permanently change shape of bones of the mouth and permanently change the shape of the smile.  Some long-term habits can cause irreversible changes that cannot be fixed with orthodontic treatment alone. Additionally, it will create issues that can make orthodontic treatment more time-consuming, more complex, and more expensive.

How can we start to break a pacifier habit?
Typically a thumb habit is more challenging to break than a pacifier habit because you cannot take a thumb away : ) In most cases, you will start this process at a younger age while the child is still a toddler, and in many cases they will stop on their own. Avoid harsh words or punishment as this is not effective for this age group. Praise progress and use rewards charts to help encourage them to quit. Beware - in some cases, a new thumb or finger habit may emerge!

How can we start to break a thumb habit?
- Be conservative at first! If your child in pre-school or early elementary school, start by talking about it. Kids must be on board to quit; if they do not want to quit, conservative approaches may not be successful, and you may have to revisit it again after waiting a few months. The earlier you start the conversation, the better of you are since the upper front adult teeth will come in around age 6-7. I recommend starting out with simple reminders such as wearing a Band-Aid on the thumb or finger.

My kid is now on board - what can we do to help him quit his thumb habit?
- While they may relapse at times to find comfort, you may need to use additional items to help kick the habit. You can try a baseball batting glove, thin winter glove, or sock over the hand at night time. You can loosely add medical tape around the wrist to make it more difficult to remove, but please be sure it is not too tight. Another product is Mavala Stop which is a sour tasting nail polish to serve as a reminder. Always remember - couple the reminders with a tracking and reward system to celebrate the small wins. Praise will help keep the kids motivated - remember they want to make you happy!

What if the conservative habit break measures don't work?
- More aggressive physical reminders in addition to the above may be needed. An Ace bandage wrap around the elbow will make it more difficult to bend the elbow which will restrict their ability to bring their hand towards the mouth. You may also consider a wrist guard thumb habit appliance (TGuard brand) that is fixed to the wrist and plastic around the thumb/fingers

What if everything else does not work - what is our last resort?
- Orthodontic appliances are the last resort. If all else fails and we see the habit is causing significant bone changes, we can make what we call a "habit appliance" and cement it to the molars in the mouth. It is like a metal cage that fits near the roof of the mouth and difficult to remove. Typically, we will keep it in place for 9 months, but no less than 6 months in order to break the habit. If this appliance is needed, many times a palatal expander will be needed afterwards to correct the changes that have occurred due to the habit.

Orthodontists are skilled in helping you and your child with their habit issues. Additionally, we are skilled at correcting the problems that prolonged habits may cause. Be sure to talk to your local orthodontist early about breaking the habit - it will certainly make a difference in the long run!

What are orthodontic tooth separators or spacers?

May 17th, 2020

Orthodontic separators (also known as “spacers”) are small latex-free rubber bands that fit in between two teeth to make space in preparation for fitting an orthodontic band or ring around the tooth. These are commonly placed before a palatal expander is placed.

What can my child expect after the separator or "spacer" is placed?

  1. Mild soreness from the spacer is expected – use over the counter pain medications as needed.
  2. Pressure or feeling of something stuck between the teeth is normal.
  3. If the spacer falls out a few days before the next appointment, that usually means enough space has been made.

Tips:

  1. Do not try to remove the spacers at home – this may delay fitting the orthodontic band or appliance at the next appointment
  2. Avoid sticky and chewy foods that may dislodge the spacer
  3. Brush the area normally but do not floss the area with the spacers

If the spacer falls out before your next appointment, the ring around the tooth should still fit in most cases so there is no need to come in for a separate appointment. If you have any questions or concerns about the spacer, please call our office, as we are happy to help!

Managing your braces & Invisalign during COVID-19

March 18th, 2020

With the recent outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), dental and orthodontic offices around the nation are closing due to recommendations by the American Dental Association. While offices remain open for emergency care, many people have questions about how to manage their ongoing orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign. Here are a few guidelines to help you out : )

GENERAL GUIDELINES:

  • Wash your hands very often!
    • Orthodontic treatment involves putting your hands in your mouth. Whether you are placing rubber bands, wax, retainers, or an Invisalign clear aligner, you need to put your hands in your mouth. You should be washing your hands for at least 20 seconds BEFORE AND AFTER putting your hands in your mouth. Additionally, you should be washing your hands, in general, more often.
  • If you can't wash your hands, use hand sanitizer
    • If soap and water are not available, be sure you use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content. Rub all surfaces of your hands well.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
    • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay at home and follow the CDC guidelines for social distancing
    • The illness is spread by close contact with other people or via droplets in the air. Please do not use this time away from work or school to spend time with friends and family. Many people who have the virus do not know it!
  • If you are getting sick, contact your medical health care provider for help.
    • If you are sick, first and foremost, stay away from others so you do not spread the illness to them. Contact your medical professional for advice on what to do next. They are your best resource of information on where to go to get help.

For any significant pain or concern, please call or email Dr. Zach as we are still available to help you out. Here are some common questions we are getting about braces, Invisalign, and retainers:

BRACES - COMMON QUESTIONS

  • Should I wear my rubber bands?
    • Yes! For now continue to wear rubber bands as instructed to continue your progress.
  • What if I run out of rubber bands?
    • Call or email our office - we can arrange a pick up!
  • What should I do if I have a broken brace?
    • If you are not in pain, you can attempt to remove the brace or place wax on it to stabilize the brace. If it is causing a significant discomfort that makes it difficult to eat or sleep, please call us and we can arrange an emergency visit to get you comfortable. Unfortunately at this time, we cannot fix broken braces but we can get you comfortable again.
  • What should I do if I am in pain?
    • Call or email our office - we will set up an emergency appointment to adjust the braces to get you comfortable again.
  • Will the COVID-19 shut down delay my treatment?
    • It depends on how long we are closed, but in the meantime, make sure you do the following:
      • Continue to brush your teeth 3 times per day
      • Avoid hard and sticky foods to ensure nothing is broken
      • Wear your rubber bands as instructed
  • What if I have a question or something does not seem right?
    • Call or email us - Dr. Zach is available for questions : )
  • Other tips:
    • Dispose of your used rubber bands and wax properly - do not put them on counters or clean surfaces
    • Since you are home, brush your teeth and floss them more often. Be sure to wash your hands before and after
    • Avoid sugary drinks to protect your teeth from white spots

INVISALIGN - COMMON QUESTIONS

  • Should I continue to wear my aligners?
    • Yes! For now, continue to wear aligners as instructed to continue your progress.
  • If I have rubber bands, should I wear those too?
    • Yes! For now continue to wear rubber bands as instructed to continue your progress.
  • What if I run out of aligners?
    • Please give us a call and we can arrange a pick up if we have more in the office. In the event it was the last of the box, we will have to wait for another 3D scan to order more. If you are on your last aligner for awhile, please be sure to clean it more often.
  • Can I clean them with soap and water?
    • Yes! You can use hand soap to clean your aligners with cold water.
  • What if something does not seem right?
    • Give us a call or send an email - Dr. Zach is available for questions : )
  • Other tips:
    • Clean and brush your aligners more often during this time
    • Clean your Invisalign retainer case often
    • Be sure to carry your hand sanitizer with you
    • Do not set your Invisalign down on any unclean surfaces

PALATAL EXPANDERS

  • Should I keep turning the expander?
    • No, at this time, if you have not been instructed to continue your turns, you should stop and wait until your next appointment with Dr. Zach.
  • Is it OK to leave it in place?
    • Yes. The expander is usually in for 9-10 months.
  • What if my child was due to have it removed during the closure?
    • Please be patient and sit tight. A few extra weeks will not cause any harm.
  • What if it is causing pain or discomfort?
    • Please call our office and we will be happy to help you out : )

RETAINERS - COMMON QUESTIONS

  • Should I continue to wear my retainer?
    • Yes! Please continue as instructed by Dr. Zach
  • Can I clean my retainer with soap and water?
    • Yes! You can use hand soap and cold water to clean your retainer. It is a good idea at this time to keep it as clean as possible. You should clean both before and after using it.
  • What if I lost my retainer?
    • If you lost your retainer and you have your 3D printed model of your teeth, please give us a call and we may be able to make you a new one. We would have to arrange a drop-off/pick-up.
  • Other tips:
    • Clean and brush your retainers more often during this time
    • Clean your retainer case often
    • Do not set your retainers down on any unclean surfaces

If there is any other question you have, let us know! We are here to help you and we can't wait to see your smile again : ) 

What age is best for first orthodontic screening?

January 5th, 2020

If you have school age children, determining the age of the first orthodontic visit may be confusing. You may see some first graders in braces and you may be wondering: "Why in the world are they wearing braces already? As a parent, am I missing something?"

It is very common for parents to ask me:

What is the best age to bring my child for their first orthodontic screening?

In my opinion, I believe the best time for a first visit is around their 8th birthday. At this age, children have a mix of both adult and baby teeth, and we can start to foresee how their teeth and jaws will line up in the future. Specifically, I am looking for:
- Cross bites (top jaw is too small)
- Excessive crowding or spacing of the teeth
- Overbites and underbites (mismatch of upper and lower jaw size)
- Missing teeth, late erupting teeth, extra teeth, abnormally shaped teeth
- Environmental factors (thumb sucking habits, mouth breathing, etc.)

While there are many things I am looking for at this age, it does not necessarily mean that I will treat them at this age. In fact, for most kids under the age of 11, I recommend waiting.  While every orthodontist is different, I prefer a conservative approach and I firmly believe "less is more" when it comes to orthodontic treatment.

Why do I take this approach? For many bites, we have studies that show we can get the same result if we treat in one stage instead of two. This not only saves time and money in orthodontic treatment, but it gives your kid the chance to be a kid without having braces from age 8 until 13. Additionally, we have to consider these are their adult teeth - they need to have them forever! Hygiene is very important, and I want to give every kid the chance to keep their teeth clean and cavity-free if possible.

Does this mean I wait in all cases? Not at all! It is true - some cases I do recommend a 2 step approach with early orthodontic intervention at age 8-10 years old. Often times, this is for bone growth issues that are best addressed at that age, or for teeth alignment issues that if left untreated will make for a more difficult treatment in the future. If this is the case, I try to do an early treatment for as little time as possible to help correct the problem. Then we can wait and approach the rest as a pre-teen or teenagerI sincerely look at every child as if they were my own, and if there is a situation that I would treat my son or daughter, then I let you know.

I take pride in our conservative approach to early treatment. Best of all, we do not charge anything for an initial screening - our first appointment is entirely free, and you do not need a referral from your dentist to check us out. Feel free to reach out anytime with questions - I am here to help : )

-Dr. Zach

9 Common Questions about Orthodontics

December 15th, 2019

We receive lots of questions every week from people interesting straightening their teeth to improve their smile and to create a healthy bite. Here are a few of our most popular questions and answers : )

  1. What is an orthodontist, and how is he/she different than my regular dentist?
    An orthodontist is a dental specialist who focuses only on treatment with braces, clear aligners (Invisalign), and retainers. An orthodontist has pursued 2-3 years of additional training beyond dental school in order to specialize in the growth and development of facial structures.
  2. What problems does an orthodontist fix?
    Common orthodontic problems include crowding or spacing of teeth, uneven smile, impacted or unerupted teeth, and improper jaw alignment.
  3. Will getting braces or orthodontic treatment hurt?
    Generally, there is a short period of discomfort for a couple of days in your teeth, gums, and cheeks as you mouth gets adjusted to the braces. Dr. Zach will discuss with you or your parents the best way to manage this discomfort.
  4. What is the best age to see Dr. Zach for a consultation?
    In general, anyone wishing to improve his or her smile can schedule an exam at any age, from children to adults! Most full orthodontic treatments will begin around age 11-13 to coincide with the start of adolescence and the loss of remaining baby teeth. However, some problems can still develop before this age and require a form of early treatment as early as age 7.
  5. How do I take care of my braces?
    Excellent brushing and flossing habits are necessary to take care of your braces and teeth. Also, you will need to follow our instructions on how to avoid any broken appliances and problems.
  6. How long will I have wear braces or Invisalign clear aligners?
    Treatment times will vary on an individual basis depending on your goals and how challenging the tooth movements will be. Treatment times can range from 6 months to 30 months, and the most common treatments average about 18-20 months for a beautiful smile.
  7. Do I still see my regular dentist every 6 months?
    Yes! It is absolutely necessary to see your general dentist every 6 months for regular check-ups and cleanings. The health of your teeth is our number one priority, and your dentist is essential in the maintenance of your teeth before, during, and after treatment.
  8. Will I have problems playing sports or musical instruments?
    Although there is an initial adjustment period, you should not have problems participating in your normal activities with braces. We recommend wearing a mouth guard during contact sports.
  9. Will I have to wear a retainer at the end of treatment?
    Yes, at the conclusion of orthodontic treatment, a retainer is required to maintain the result and keep your smile beautiful.

Still have more questions? Feel free to contact us here or call/text us anytime : ) We are happy to help!

Missing Teeth, Impacted Canines, and Your Family Tree

August 24th, 2019

Teeth genetics are weird. There is so much variation in size, shape, and color teeth. There is also a lot of variation when it comes to timing of when baby teeth are lost. We are all so different from one another, with a few exceptions: our teeth are very much like those of our parents and siblings.

Teeth abnormalities are pretty common in the general public, and many people are affected by them. For example, approximately 30% of people are missing at least one tooth. This is most commonly a wisdom tooth. Also, approximately 2-3% of the population has an impacted canine, where the canine is stuck in the bone and does not want to come in. It is more common on the left side than the right side (how weird!) and it is more common in girls than boys (sorry ladies!).

As a parent, it is important to keep this in mind. Are you missing an adult tooth, or was your brother or sister missing a tooth? Do you still have a baby tooth in your mouth? Do you remember having braces to fix an impacted canine? Your kids will be more at risk for similar problems. Impacted canine teeth can damage other adult teeth, and missing teeth can be a dental problem in the future if not addressed early.

So what do you do? It's simple - get a screening early. I recommend having an orthodontic  screening at age 8 to evaluate for these conditions early. We take a panoramic x-ray that looks at all of the developing teeth so that we can see if any of these problems may occur. Most orthodontists do not charge for this screening, and it basically informational to help you understand your child's current or future needs.

Is it OK to have a screening even if you didn't have these problems? Yes - definitely! You may not know that grandma or great-uncle was missing 4 adult teeth. Additionally, we are screening for more than just missing teeth. We look for crowding issues, spacing issues, overbites, underbites, cross bites, and much more.

At the end of the day, please do not lose sleep over any of these issues. Genetics is out of your control, but we are here to help however we can. We can correct impacted teeth, missing teeth, and bite issues in many different ways with braces and Invisalign®. Feel free to reach out with any question : )

Take care and love your smile!
Dr. Zach

Sleep Issues in Children – Read before your child’s next physical exam

February 3rd, 2019


When you hear the words sleep apnea, you probably don’t think much about kids. However, sleep apnea affects 2-3% of kids, and the symptoms are subtler than they are in adults. Children with sleep apnea may appear totally normal at a physical exam, but there are some signs to watch out for. This list is not all-inclusive, nor does it mean that any one of these indicates a problem. However, if some of these describe your child, it may be a good idea to consult with your family doctor about the possibility that sleep may a problem.

  • Snoring – No child should snore – period. An occasional load breath may be heard, but your child should not be snoring or breathing loudly at night on a regular basis. Snoring in children goes hand-in-hand with sleep apnea, and this should definitely be brought the attention of your family doctor.
  • Teeth grinding – Grinding teeth at night may be a defense mechanism for the body. If your child is struggling with proper airflow at nighttime (due to a collapsed airway, tonsils, adenoids, allergies, etc.), pushing the lower jaw forward often helps open the airway to allow a better passage of air down the throat. This protective measure for the body is helpful for breathing, but can really cause long lasting harmful effects on the teeth.
  • Bedwetting – Typically, by around the age of 5, most kids will be able to sleep without wetting the bed. An accident here or there is much different than an older child who is wetting the bed frequently. Although this can be due to other medical conditions, bedwetting can be linked to sleep disorders as the body fails to awaken when the bladder is full.
  • Mouth breathing – While humans are able to breathe through both the nose and the mouth, we are technically “obligate nasal breathers” as a species, meaning we are supposed to breathe through our nose. Deviated septum, allergies, and other nasal airway obstructions can make it difficult to breathe through the nose. Mouth breathing can affect the development of the face, jaws, and teeth position, often times leading to orthodontic treatment to normalize the effects of letting the mouth hang open all the time.
  • ADHD – Sleep issues may contribute to problems relating to attention span. When some kids don’t get enough sleep, they actually act opposite of what we would expect – they actually become hyperactive rather than tired. Additionally, they may be irritable, unfocused, and easily distracted, and these consequences can have a very negative effect on school performance. Studies have shown that 1/3 kids with ADHD also snore while sleeping.
  • Morning headaches – If your child’s airway is partially blocked while sleeping, the amount of oxygen in the blood will be reduced. This reduction in oxygen level may lead to headaches, specifically in the morning after waking from a poor night’s sleep.
  • Sleepwalking and sleep talking – Typically if these are observed, they are usually shortly after going to bed and associated with “confused arousal.” This means that something startles the child awake, but they are still subconscious and may not be fully awake. This arousal may be from other medical conditions, but it may also be from airway obstruction that causes sleepwalking and/or sleep talking.

The bottom line is this – sleep is obviously important for all of us, but many kids with sleep issues are not being identified. As an orthodontist, I am a specialist in facial growth and development, and my job is to simply screen for some of these issues. I can fix some of the side effects on the teeth and jaws, but ultimately a physician (sleep specialist or ENT physician) needs to put all the pieces together to make a diagnosis. So, if you see these issues at home, or your dentist or orthodontist has mentioned some of them to you, make sure to follow up with your physician. Improving your child’s sleep very well could change their life, so the sooner we do it, the better : )

- Dr. Zach

IT'S ABOUT MORE THAN JUST STRAIGHT TEETH

October 13th, 2018

Orthodontics is awesome. Using braces or Invisalign, we have the ability to shape a person's smile over the course of 12-24 months. It's simply amazing to see the transformation in esthetics and bite correction along the way.

Traditionally, orthodontics has been focused on just the teeth - which, I agree, is the main point : ) - but there is so much more to it than just straightening teeth. The teeth, more importantly, are the focal point in the smile. A smile is our own, personal, lifelong asset that is truly unique to us. It conveys emotion to our friends, family, and strangers, and it will show up in photos that capture the most important memories and events of our lives.

It should come as no surprise that with so much emphasis on our smile, some people are truly not happy with it. They may feel they have to hide it, or worse, that others are teasing them in school because of their appearance. This can be very challenging for both kids and adults alike, and this is why orthodontics is so much more powerful than straight teeth.

 

In the course of wearing braces or Invisalign, we get to see the change in confidence and self-esteem of so many people. It is truly gratifying to know that treatment can affect a person's life in such profound ways. There are many studies that support that orthodontic treatment has positive psychosocial effects, and this is truly what it is all about.

It's about improving lives by improving smiles. It's about feeling confident in all those important moments in life. It's about giving your child more self-esteem in all those awkward years of their young lives. It's about looking back at photos of those milestone days of our lives and really appreciating that each and every one of us has a unique smile, and we should not be afraid to show it : )

- Dr. Zach

 

Retainers for LIFE : )

August 19th, 2018

Many people are surprised to learn that the teeth continue to move throughout life. This always leads to many questions about retainers and keeping the teeth straight. Let's dive into a few common questions.

Why do we need retainers?
Retainers help keep the teeth straight after they have been aligned with braces or Invisalign. Our teeth are held into the bone by ligaments, and over time as we age, our bones and ligaments change. As these changes occur, our teeth will unfortunately move.Example of teeth that shifted due to lack of retainer wear. We corrected the teeth with Invisalign, and placed a "fixed" retainer glued to the back of the teeth to prevent future shifting.

What types of retainers are there?
Retainers come in many shapes and forms. In our office, we use three main types of retainers. We use "fixed" retainers (AKA glued retainers, bonded retainers, permanent retainers) in many cases to hold the lower teeth straight. We use these retainers often because the lower front teeth tend be the teeth most affected by crowding as an adult. We use clear retainers (AKA Essix retainers, Invisalign retainers) in most cases, and these retainers wrap around the entire surface of your teeth like a mouthguard. In some cases, we use Hawley retainers (AKA wire retainers) which are made of acrylic and wire. Depending on your circumstance, we recommend what is best for you and give you options.

Will may retainers last forever?
We wish they could last forever, but just like anything else - glasses, shoes, etc. - they will wear out over time and need to be replaced. They tend to last longer if they are well maintained and cleaned regularly. If you need to have them replaced or feel that some teeth are shifting, make sure to call us to replace it before teeth move too much.

How long do we need to wear retainers?
The honest answer is you need to wear them as long as you want to keep straight teeth : )  Everybody is different, and some people may experience very minimal shifting without retainers while others will see lots of shifting. Unfortunately, we cannot predict whose teeth will move and whose will not, so many orthodontists now recommend "lifetime retention" to ensure a beautiful, straight smile. Dr. Zach is definitely on board with "lifetime retention" and he still wears his retainers to keep his teeth straight.

Think of this way: If you wear glasses or contacts, you must use them in order to see. They are simply a tool to help you see more clearly. Retainers are essentially the same thing: they are just a tool to help keep your teeth straight. So when you go to bed, you wear retainers as part of your maintenance to your body. It's that simple!

Wear your retainers : )
- Dr. Zach

6 Common Questions About Palatal Expanders

June 1st, 2018

Many young kids are referred to our office by their dentist, and parents are often wondering why we see kids that are 7 to 10 years old. In some cases, there may be a bone size imbalance between the upper and lower jaw, and palatal expanders are a great way to correct these problems to set children up for more balanced growth and tooth eruption as they enter adolescence. Here are some common questions that I answer on a daily basis about palatal expanders.

1) Why does my child need an expander?
A palatal expander is typically used to widen the upper jaw when it is too narrow compared to the lower jaw. It commonly treats a dental condition known as "cross bite" which is when the top teeth fit inside the bottom teeth. In some cases, expanders are used to create room for teeth that are stuck or impacted.

2) What does an expander do?
A palatal expander widens the upper jaw slowly to correct a bone size problem and make room for more teeth. It works by actually pushing the bones apart on the roof of the mouth, and then holds the bones in the new position while solid bone is created on the roof of the mouth. This new bone that forms will stabilize the correction.

3) What can we expect with our new palatal expander?
It make take up to one week to adjust to an expander. Your child may feel some pressure on the roof of the mouth and on the molar teeth. Your child may also complain that it feels funny to swallow as his or her tongue must adjust to the new appliance. Spacing may occur between the front teeth as the upper jaw widens.

4) Will the expander be painful?
We rarely hear complaints of pain with a palatal expander since are slowing moving the teeth and the bones. Tongue discomfort in the first week is the most common complaint.

5) Are there any eating restrictions?
Hard and sticky foods can dislodge the expander. We recommend avoiding all sticky and chewy candies as well as very hard foods.

6) How long does will the expander stay in place?
Typically, an expander will be in place for about 9 months total time. This may vary from child to child depending on his or her needs.

I hope this information is helpful in answering some common questions about expanders. If you have any other questions or are looking for more information, feel free to send us an email or call for a complimentary consultation. As Downers Grove's community orthodontist, I look forward to helping you and your family : )

- Dr. Zach

Request a Complimentary Consultation
Contact Us!
call email