One of the extra things added as a part of your braces treatment might be a jaw expansion device. This is usually recommended at times when your upper jaw is too narrow with a high palate or in the case of cross bite where the upper teeth are locked in by the lower teeth. The expander can look like a scary thing to be put in your mouth but after the first few days it will be as comfortable as the braces.
The expander usually consists of a screw which has a hole in the middle. A key is often inserted into this hole by the parent and turned to activate the lateral expansion of the palate. This is only possible because the bone between the right and left half of the palate has a suture in the middle which is not fully calcified until the age of 14 to 16 years.
The expander can be fixed or removable and although it seems tricky to activate it with the key initially with time & practice it becomes much more easier. Here are some changes you will notice once the expander is put in your mouth:
- Immediately after it is put there will be excessive saliva for one or two days. This is because body feels it’s a foreign object and tries to wash it off.
- There might be discomfort in chewing especially incase of a fixed one. You might also have a problem speaking well. But this too resolves in a few days
- On activation a sudden tightness and pressure is felt in the upper jaw sometimes even radiating to the nose and head.
- If the appliance is working well then a gap between the two upper teeth appears which gradually closes as the time passes.
- In cases of nose blocks, sometimes the expansion can help you in breathing better
Taking care of your expander:
- Maintain hygiene : be sure to clean all the areas around the expander
- Avoid sticky foods which can block the hole of the screw
- Tie the key to a thread and keep it safe- the key is usually customized like your expander
- Keep an alarm to remind you of your expansion schedule