A palatal expander helps to widen the upper jaw so that the upper and lower teeth can fit together correctly. It can also help to make space for crowded teeth to become aligned. The screw is turned a fraction of a millimeter each day, so the teeth are gradually moved to their new positions. It may take a few days to get used to the feeling of the expander, as well as eating and speaking with it. Practicing to speak by reading books out loud can be helpful. When the expansion screw is turned, it is normal to feel some pressure around the teeth, jaw, and nose area. Usually this goes away within about half an hour. Make sure you brush the expander well, reaching around all of the sides and in the back.
Separators, or spacers, make space between your teeth so that orthodontic bands may be placed around those teeth at the following appointment, usually a week later. When the separators are first placed, it may feel like food is stuck between the teeth, and your bite may feel different. The teeth may feel sore during the first few days, especially when biting down. Avoid eating sticky or chewy foods, because those may cause the separators to come out. Avoid flossing the teeth that have the separators, and avoid pushing on the separators with your fingers or tongue. These can also make the separators come out. If any of your separators do come out, please call the office so that we can determine if you need to have them replaced. Generally, if they came out on their own or if there are just a few days until the next appointment, they will not need to be replaced.
Elastics help to move your teeth so that they can fit together correctly. When you first start wearing your elastics, it is normal for your teeth to feel sore, and for your bite to feel different. As you continue wearing the elastics regularly, the soreness will subside. You may remove the elastics for eating, sports, and cleaning your teeth. However, if you can eat with the elastics on, that increases their effectiveness. The elastics must be worn for the prescribed amount of time and on the correct teeth to be effective. Change them three times a day (or after meals). If you forget to wear your elastics for even one day, the teeth may move back and it could take double the time to make up for it.
Your headgear helps guide the growth of your teeth and jaws so that your teeth can fit together correctly. Put on and take off your headgear carefully the way we showed you. Never play roughly while wearing your headgear. The headgear strap will come off if pulled too hard. The strap may be machine washed. Bring your headgear to each appointment so that we may check and adjust it. When you first start wearing the headgear, it is normal for your teeth to feel sore and for your bite to feel different. As you continue wearing the headgear regularly, the soreness will subside. You may remove the headgear for eating, sports, and cleaning your teeth. The headgear must be worn for the prescribed amount of time to be effective.
Temporary Anchorage Device
One of the many important advances in orthodontics has been the development of temporary anchorage devices, or TADs. Made of a bio-compatible titanium alloy, TADs are mini-implant anchors which are inserted into specific places in the mouth to be used as a fixed point from which teeth can move. TADs are small, discrete, allow for more efficient tooth movement and can minimize the need for the patient to wear appliances such as headgear. It can also open the door for additional treatment options, and facilitate a better end result.