What Are Expanders: A Brief Guide to Orthodontic Expanders for Kids

What Are Expanders: A Brief Guide to Orthodontic Expanders for Kids | Junior Smiles of Stafford

In addition to regular braces, orthodontists often utilize special equipment to address jaw alignment. These items are custom-made to help with jaw issues. There are different types of orthodontic appliances, and an orthodontic expander is one of the most widely used devices.

If you’ve been told that your kid needs to get expander treatments, you’ve undoubtedly got a lot of questions. “Will this hurt?” is a legitimate concern. In other words, “What exactly does it do?” “Will my kid be able to endure the pain?” “How long would the process take?” “Is this the right orthodontic appliance for my kid?” When considering a palate expander for your kid, these are all excellent questions to ask.

Read more to know more about this orthodontic treatment and how your kid would benefit from it.

Orthodontic Expanders

Expander or rapid palatal expander (RPE) is an orthodontic treatment used to widen the upper arch of the mouth and prevent problems like crossbite, impacted, and crowded teeth. This utilizes the soft spot to increase the width of the upper jaw. The appliance is secured to the roof of the mouth, typically by connecting it to the upper back molars, and it divides the left and right sides of the jaw, thereby widening it.

When an orthodontist evaluates a young kid, they will look for the alignment of the upper and lower jaws. They will be able to detect whether a child has a narrow upper jaw that requires expansion at an early age.

Crossbites and jaw problems often lead to bitting issues–resulting in an unnatural biting surface for those teeth. The shift will happen as the body senses that impacted teeth are not biting correctly and strive to adjust our bite to protect the teeth.

Shifting, eventually, leads to temporomandibular joint problems in the future. If the body’s bite pattern isn’t changed to keep teeth from getting hurt, the long-term health of the teeth could be in danger due to the traumatic bite. Traumatic bite, however, can also be treated using palatal expanders.

Should Your Kid Get An Expander?

Force is applied to the maxillary bones to break apart at the suture and widen the upper jaw as a whole. Here are some dental issues you can fix with an expander:


Having a crossbite is when your upper jaw doesn’t line up with your lower jaw. You can fix this jaw misalignment through an upper jaw expansion. 


This procedure can be utilized as a part of the process of repairing a gummy or narrow smile. But in some cases, some people want a more beautiful set of smiles; thus, they get treatments to widen the upper jaw to broaden the smile. 


Do you notice your adult teeth crowding? You can fix this by creating more spaces through an upper jaw expander. Your dentist will widen your upper jaw. This may also avoid the need for extractions in the area.

Impacted teeth

If a tooth fails to erupt fully or is obstructed by adjacent teeth, the upper jaw might be expanded to allow it to reach the right position.

Types of Expander

There are two main types of expanders: fixed and removable. Removable expanders, like a retainer, can be removed from the mouth, whereas fixed expanders are permanently affixed to the teeth.

Fixed expanders

Fixed expanders are more common because of the difficulty of repeatedly inserting and removing removable expanders. In addition, removable expanders are typically not worn as frequently as they should be by the patient, which is a problem.

Removable expanders

You can also go for a removable expander. This will be convenient as your kid can easily remove and put it back in their mouth. However, make sure to clean the removable expanders at least twice a day to maintain their cleanliness.

Caring for the Expanders

As your child receives orthodontic treatment, brushing the palatal expander is a must. Use a palatal expander brush twice a day or after each meal to thoroughly clean the area. Use an antibacterial mouth rinse occasionally to remove sticky food debris from the mouth.

When Should My Kid Get An Expander?

Surgery is the only way to expand the upper jaw once the soft area has closed. To prevent surgery, your kid should undergo upper jaw extension from a young age, typically between the ages of 8 and 12, to take advantage of growth potential.

The expander works best to widen the top jaw before bone fills in the soft region on the roof of the mouth. The top jaw is typically solidified with bone during puberty.

Contact Junior Smiles of Stafford to know more about expanders

Are you thinking about getting your kids an expander to address jaw and crossbite problems? To learn more about this orthodontic treatment and how it could help your child, it’s best to consult a pediatric dentist. It is our goal to make your child’s dental appointments a pleasant and stress-free experience.

Read Next: 5 Most Common Questions About Baby Teeth X-Rays

Why Choose Junior Smiles of Stafford?

Our Stafford, VA team is well-versed in working with clients of various ages and backgrounds. They’ll take the time to get to know you and your family’s requirements, and they’ll work with you to design a treatment plan that suits your schedule. Sealants and fluoride treatments are just two of the many preventative care options we provide to keep your mouth healthy.

About Us

Visiting Junior Smiles of Stafford means you’re in good hands when it comes to receiving high-quality care. Your child’s dental health improves with each visit, ensuring a brighter smile for years to come. We adhere to the ADA and AAPD’s guidelines for best practices. 

Where Are We Located?

963 Garrisonville Rd #103

Stafford, VA 22556

Phone: (540) 699-2441

Fax: (540) 699-2464

Email: info@juniorsmilesofstafford.com

Monday and Tuesday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Wednesdays and Thursdays: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Fridays and Saturdays: 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM (By appointment only)

How to Book Your Kids First Appointment at Junior Smiles of Stafford

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