Georgetown Orthodontics

Orthodontists located in Washington, DC

An upper or lower jaw expander is a way to gradually expand and open up your arch during the first phase of orthodontic treatment, especially for children and teens who are still growing. Georgetown Orthodontics in Washington, DC, provides compassionate care and personalized expander treatments. Find out more about modern expanders by booking an appointment. Request an appointment online, or call the office directly.

Expander Q & A

What is an expander?

Jaw expansion with an expander is a specialized type of orthodontic treatment that helps open up the palate and widen your upper arch. An expander can also be used on your lower arch. In either case, an expander creates more room for teeth.

Usually, an expander is used as part of the orthodontic treatment plan for growing teens between the ages of 14-16, since the expander can prevent bad bites and issues with seriously misaligned teeth. Each type of expander is described below.

Upper jaw expander

Upper jaw expanders (also known as palatal or maxillary expanders) are custom-designed and fitted to you specifically. This dental appliance, which has two halves, fits over several of your top teeth. The two halves are connected at the roof of your mouth with a screw.

You use a specialized key to adjust the expander, often on a daily basis. With each adjustment, the expander puts gentle force on your teeth, which encourages them to move apart until you achieve your optimal expansion.

The reason upper jaw expansion is so successful for growing teens is because your upper jaw develops in two halves. But they don’t fuse together until long after puberty. The upper jaw expander promotes healthy jaw growth and development.

Lower jaw expanders

Lower jaw expanders have the same outcome — expanded arch — but the function of them is different. Because your lower jaw bone can’t be expanded, lower expanders work by moving the teeth outward to create a more rounded arch. They can even correct teeth that are tipped inward.

Which conditions can an expander treat?

An expander is ideal for treating a wide variety of issues that can’t be corrected with braces alone. At Georgetown Orthodontics, the doctor may recommend an expander to treat any of the following issues:

  • Crossbite
  • Overcrowding
  • Impacted teeth
  • Mouth breathing

How long do I need to wear an expander?

It depends on the severity of your misalignment issues, although several months of expander wear is common. The doctor adjusts your expander as needed and has you check in regularly.

Even after you achieve optimal expansion, we may leave your expander in for several more months to allow new bone to grow in the gap to ensure permanent stabilization. In general, even with the extended wear, it’s common for expanders to be worn for anywhere from three to six months.

Book your orthodontic expander consultation at Georgetown Orthodontics today. You can conveniently book an appointment online or over the phone.