Palatal expansion is an orthodontic treatment used to treat malocclusion problems occurring due to a small jaw. The treatment is done using a small device known as a palatal expander or a jaw expander. The palatal expansion treatment can last anywhere between 2 months to a year, depending on the unique requirements of your child.
Living with a jaw expander is uncomfortable for the child. He needs to adjust to the presence of the foreign body in the mouth and learn how to live with it. Before we discuss about how to live with an expander, let us first know what is a jaw expander.
A jaw expander is an orthodontic instrument, which is used to widen the palate. It is fitted against the palate and bonded to the teeth. The expander applies pressure on the jaw bone, which consists of two bones and increases the gap between the two bones. The jaw bones in children consist of two halves, which incidentally fuse after puberty. The treatment using jaw expanders is faster and effective in young children as the jaw bone doesn’t, fuse and their natural growth process aids the treatment.
Eating With a Jaw Expander
Most children find it difficult to eat with a jaw expander. It is advisable to stock up on their favorite foods which are soft and easy to chew. You can opt for flavored yogurt, milkshakes, soups, ice creams and mashed vegetables and fruits. Cut fruits into small bite-sized pieces to ensure there is no extra pressure on the teeth.
Maintaining Oral Hygiene
Food particles tend to get deposited under the palate expander and cause plaque and bacteria. It is essential to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush and floss your child’s teeth regularly. You can also help the child in the cleaning process. Use a water flosser and clean the screws, edges and other gears of the expanders. Also clean the places between your expander and mouth.
Dealing with Drooling
Excessive drooling is one of the side-effects of a jaw expander. Clean your mouth regularly and be patient. Drooling will go away as the child gets used to the expander.
Handling the Pain and Discomfort
Your orthodontist will prescribe a painkiller to help the child deal with the initial pain and discomfort. You can ice packs, dental wax, and other pain numbing gels to reduce the pain. However, speak to the orthodontist if you child complains of excessive pain.
Now that you know what is a jaw expander and how to handle it, you are all prepared to help your child to live with an expander for a few months. The benefits of the palate expansion treatment outweigh the initial pain and discomfort.