An expander is an appliance that creates space by widening the upper arch. It extends the distance between the two bones that make up the palate. If you are still growing, an expander can be used non-surgically. If you have finished growing, it will be necessary to enlist the services of an oral surgeon to separate the sutures of the palate that have fused together.
There are several steps involved in creating your custom expander. First, separators will be placed to nudge your teeth far enough apart from each other so bands can be comfortably fit around the teeth. Depending on the spacing of your teeth, we will go several days to a couple of weeks with the separators in place. The next step is to fit the bands around the teeth. Typically, four bands are utilized to provide maximum anchorage. An impression is then made of your mouth with the bands in place, new separators are placed, and the impression is sent to the lab. Finally, one week later the expander is cemented in your mouth with fluoride releasing cement.
You will be given a “key” and asked to turn the expander one to two times daily. The expander will gradually create space that initially shows up between your upper front two teeth! Upon completion of the turns, the gap between your front two teeth will begin to close on its own while the appliance maintains the space in the back. You will be asked to return to the office for a brief appointment to ensure more turns are not needed. The expander will remain in your mouth, after the turns are done, for a minimum of three months.
The turns could create a sensation of pressure in the upper jaw and nasal passages. An increased amount of saliva in your mouth can temporarily occur, as well as challenges pronouncing certain words. You should adapt in a week or so.