Why does my child need an expander?

Some children do not grow the size, or shape of the upper jaw to fit the lower jaw properly. The upper jaw is often too narrow. A narrow upper jaw makes less room for the upper teeth to fit. If not corrected, this can often lead to “fangs” as a teenager. It can also cause more serious conditions such as impacted upper eye teeth. This condition can require surgery for correction.

The expander is attached to and uses the teeth to push on and widen the upper jaw. Expansion is most effective when the child is age 6 to 10. After age 12 or so a successful expansion may also require a major jaw surgery.

It is easier, more effective, and more stable to do expansion at an early age.

What is the best age for a first braces check-up?

Children should be seen for their first braces check-up at age 7. At this age the space for teeth is pretty well set and the orthodontist can tell if there are any issues which would benefit from early treatment. The primary reason for starting with an early evaluation is to get the best plan for your child. Some issues are important to start early, like crossbites and palate expansion. The older the child, the more complications can occur from these issues. Children with early loss of back baby teeth need spacers to keep the adult teeth from drifting and blocking other teeth. Some of the teeth alignment problems, like individual front tooth crossbite can cause permanent damage to both teeth and bone.

Every child is different and we design the treatment plan specifically for your child, often waiting for a later age to start braces.