Life With An Expander


At Howard Orthodontics, we want our patients to feel confident and at ease every step of the way. We also want you to be informed about your care so you know what we’re doing and why. Not only does it keep you involved in the process, but it also keeps you motivated! We use many tools here to improve smiles in Willow Street, like recognizable metal, clear and removable braces. But did you know we also use expanders? It’s true! However, over the years, Dr. Howard has met many patients and guardians of patients who are apprehensive about expanders because they don’t know what they are. So today, we want to tell you what life with an expander is like and explain what expanders are so that you can be just as excited about this incredible tool as we are!

What Is An Expander?

An expander is a unique device that fits against the roof of your mouth. Expanders have two halves connected by a screw in the middle. When you turn this screw a tiny bit each day, the expander does its magic by gently pushing the two halves of your upper jaw apart. Over time, this makes your jaw wider. As the expander does its job, new bone fills the gap to make the change permanent. (Please note that some do not have a screw and widen the mouth automatically.)

You might wonder, “Why would anyone want to widen their jaw?” Great question! Sometimes, our jaws aren’t wide enough for all our teeth to fit correctly. Or maybe the top and bottom teeth don’t line up just right. An expander helps create that extra space and gets everything lined up for a perfect smile. Usually, expanders are followed by fixed or removable braces to put the finishing touches on your alignment.


You may be wondering what an expander is, so today, we want to tell you what life with an expander is like and explain what expanders are!


Life With An Expander.

So, you’ve got an expander in your mouth. It might feel like you’ve got a mini spaceship parked up there, right? Don’t worry! Like any new experience, there’s a bit of getting used to it, but the adjustment phase will fly by! Let’s chat about what daily life is like with this new buddy of yours.

Talking: You might initially sound different than usual like you have a slight lisp. That’s totally normal! Your tongue is just getting used to this new neighbor. With practice and patience, you’ll be back to chatting like your usual self in no time.

Eating: Here’s where you might need to make a few changes. Even if your expander is removable, you will not take it out for eating or drinking. This means you need to adjust your diet! Sticky, hard, or super chewy foods are not the best pals with your expander. They can get stuck or even damage it. While you wear an expander, say, “No, thank you,” to things like gum, hard candies, chips, popcorn, taco shells, nuts, and super chewy caramel. If you are unsure if something is safe to eat, set it aside for now and contact our office. It is better to be safe than sorry!

Cleaning: Keeping your expander clean is super important. Food can get trapped there, so rinsing your mouth after meals is a good idea. When you brush your teeth, give your expander some attention too. A soft toothbrush and some gentle scrubbing will do the trick. A clean expander keeps your breath fresh, protects your expander, and maintains the good health of your teeth and gums!

Discomfort: At Howard Orthodontics, we pride ourselves on always being honest with our patients, even if it might not be what they want to hear. Now is one of those times. We wish we could tell you there’s no discomfort about expanders, but that’s not true! The expander might sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable, especially after it’s installed or adjusted. It’s just doing its job. A cold pack or some over-the-counter pain relief can help. (Please note surgically installed expanders will have different side effects. Following your oral surgeon’s instructions is crucial for the best results.)


You may be wondering what an expander is, so today, we want to tell you what life with an expander is like and explain what expanders are!


Let Howard Orthodontics Expand Your Smile!

Life with an expander is a bit of an adventure, but remember, it’s just a step on the path to a fantastic grin! 

Your smile affects many aspects of your life, including your overall mental, physical, and oral well-being. You want to ensure you go to an orthodontist you can trust and feel confident in. If you are curious about your or your child’s orthodontic treatment options but are unsure if you are ready to commit, we’ve got you covered. Schedule a free consultation with us in Willow Street for a thorough assessment, including complimentary X-rays, digital scans, and an exam. The consultation lets you learn your options and get to know us at Howard Orthodontics with zero pressure to commit to anything.

If you have any questions you’d like answers to before your appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Our team is always happy to help!