Expander for kids

Expander for teeth

BY Dr. Rooz Khosravi


Orthodontic treatment is often considered as an option for teens. American Association of Orthodontists recommend the first visit to an orthodontist around the age 7. The goal of the first visit is to establish a provider for orthodontic care and monitoring potential dental and skeletal growth.

A small group of kids need early orthodontic treatment. The goal is this often one year of treatment to help transition of baby teeth to adult teeth. Mostly monitoring to avoid severe crowded teeth leading in impacted teeth. Additionally, an orthodontist would identify potential jawbones issues that could be fixed with growth modification treatment plans.

Phase 1 or early treatment appliances to fix issues with the upper jaw (maxillary) or lower jaw (mandible) vary. One of the common growth modification plans for kids is an expander treatment.

Upper jaw expander

Palatal Expander

Palatal expansion is done to fix skeletal crossbite in child’s mouth. This is when upper teeth are sitting inside of the lower teeth when you bite. Alternatively, your child can have a front crossbite, when upper front teeth get behind the lower teeth. These malocclusion could have skeletal or dental origins.

Expanders work by moving the two pieces of maxillary (upper jaw) when the suture is not completely fused. New bone forms between the upper jaw bones after the expansion. It is important to keep the expander as a retainer after expansion to avoid relapse.

Rapid palatal expander creates enough room for permanent teeth to erupt. This could help avoiding tooth extraction in adulthood.

There are many types of palate expanders. At PORT, we use 3D printed custom expanders. Palate expanders work by a special key that helps turning the screw positioned on the roof of the mouth.

Expanders in adults when the suture is completely fused comes with high risk of facial bone fracture. Jaw corrective surgeries are a safer solution to address skeletal issues in upper jaw.

Treatment options for kids combines palate expander with braces or clear aligners (Invisalign).

Life with an orthodontic expander

Oral hygiene and cleaning around the expander is the key in success of the treatment. Expander often cover the adult molars back of the mouth which is harder to clean. Back teeth are at risk of cavities in patients with poor flossing and brushing habits.

Soft foods are a great choice especially in the first few weeks of the treatment. Taffy or sticky food can break the expander and make it comes out.

We recommend patients with expander to regularly see their dentist or pediatric dentist.

First visit to an orthodontist office at 7 years old

Learn More about Orthodontic Treatment at PORTH

Schedule a virtual consultation today or schedule an in-person appointment at our Sammamish or Bellevue clinic. Your first free appointment includes recommendations for orthodontic treatment.

Common questions about expanders:

Are teeth expanders painful?

No. The teeth can be sensitive in the first two weeks of the treatment.

How long do you wear expanders for teeth?

Between 6 to 9 months.

Is an expander really necessary?

Not for every child. Expander can create space for adult teeth and fix skeletal issues.

What is the best age to get an expander?

Kids around 7 to 12 are great for expander. Expander for adults comes with the risk of face bone fractures.

What are the benefits of getting an expander?

Fixing skeletal crossbite and creating enough room for adult teeth.

What are the possible side effects of an expander?

Facial bone fracture in adults and sensitivity of the teeth in kids and teens.

How long does it take to get an expander?

2-4 weeks.

How much do expanders cost?

Cost of orthodontic treatment varies. Kids braces treatment that often comes with an expander ranges from $3000 tp $5500.

How to take care of your expander: