One of the most common orthodontic problems we see here at Smile Team Orthodontics is crowding. This is a result of there not being enough room in your mouth for all of your teeth. This problem can be treated, but often in children and teenagers, it requires the jaw to be expanded. This is a good time for such treatment as young jaws are more malleable than adult jaws.
Jaw expansion can be achieved with the use of removable and fixed appliances. These appliances will affect your speech in the first few days of wearing them and you will experience extra saliva. Don't worry. This will reduce with time and practice. Reading out load for 5 to 10 minutes a day will help you get your speech back to normal again.
Types of appliances
Twin Block: A twin block consists of two removable orthodontic plates that fit both the upper and lower teeth. They may include springs to move individual teeth slightly and to expand the upper jaw.
When fitting your twin block make sure you correctly position the plates. Once your plate is in the correct position, simply use your fingers to push against the plastic and the plate will click into place. When removing your twin block always use your index fingers to pull downwards on the metal clips located on the far back sides of the plates. To remove the lower block use your thumbs and push up. This will help prevent damage to the more delicate wires at the front of the appliance.
Upper Removal Appliance (URA): An upper removal appliance consists of a removable orthodontic plate that fits the upper teeth and palate. They may include springs to move individual teeth slightly and/or a wire to push some teeth back. However, their main role is to expand the upper arch and make room for the developing teeth to come through in a better position. When fitting your URA, always make sure you look into a mirror so you can correctly position the plate. Once your URA is in the correct position, simply use your fingers to push against the plastic and the plate will click into place.
Rapid maxillary appliance: Rapid maxillary appliances are designed to expand the upper back teeth and upper jaw. When you first receive the appliance, it may rub on your cheeks a little bit. Please use the wax provided to protect your cheeks. This is usually needed only for a few days.
Wearing your appliance
Unless otherwise instructed, your appliance should be worn almost 24 hours a day. This means you leave your appliance in place for sleeping and eating soft foods. The only time you may remove your plates is when cleaning your teeth, playing a contact sport, eating very hard or sticky food, or swimming.
Not wearing your appliance will result in a poor fit, which can be uncomfortable and will prevent you from achieving the best result.
Caring for your appliance
Your appliance should be cleaned every day with a soft toothbrush and warm running water (not hot water). The best time to clean your appliance is when you brush your teeth.
It’s important when your appliance is not in your mouth you keep it in the box given to you. This will avoid it being lost or broken.
If you have been fitted with a rapid maxillary appliance, you can brush your teeth normally, but you do need to pay special attention to the whole appliance, including both the cheek and palatal sides. Brush the screw hole to make it easily visible for the expansion as well.
Expanding your appliance
To create expansion with your appliance, you will be required to use a key to adjust your plate according to your orthodontist’s instructions.
- Place the key in the front hole located on the beginning of the arrow.
- Push the key in the direction of the arrow until it will go no further.
- Slide out the key and the new hole should be visible at the beginning of the arrow.
- A space between the front teeth may appear and close naturally a few weeks after stopping the expansion.
It is important you contact the office if you are unable to wear your appliance or unable make the expansion turn.