Life with an Expander

Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists suggests having your child visit an orthodontist by age seven? Starting early with the orthodontic process can set the stage for a beautifully straight smile. If your child is embarking on a dental transformation journey, you’ve come to the right place. Dr. Farnsworth, Dr. Sorensen, Dr. Shelley, and Dr. Brimhall, the doctors behind Farnsworth Family Orthodontics, are here to guide you and your child through life with an expander.

Throughout this blog, we will explore the world of orthodontic expanders and the subtle devices that help unlock radiant smiles. The expander stands out among the tools we employ, particularly for patients with a narrow upper jaw.

What is an expander?

An orthodontic expander is a small device placed on the roof of the mouth. The expander is beneficial because it helps widen the space and allows room for more teeth. The roof of the mouth is made of two bones that fuse together during puberty, but until that happens, the bones are still malleable—making this the ideal device used for younger patients.

If your child has a narrow palate, which simply means their mouth is too small to allow space for all teeth, they’ll be the perfect candidate for an expander. There are many signs of a narrow palate, such as overlapping, crowded or crooked teether, headaches, sleeping/airway issues or tooth pain.

Our doctors at Farnsworth Family Orthodontics can help determine if your child meets the criteria for an expander, and we’ll work with them to adjust this as needed. The expander will fit directly behind their front teeth on the roof of their mouth. 

Once the expander has been fitted, there will be routine adjustments with one of our teams in San Angelo, Carlsbad, Clovis, Hobbs, and Lubbock. These adjustments will help your child’s growth by applying pressure on both sides of the upper jaw and allowing new bone to form. The adjustment process will last until there is the right amount of space for their teeth to line up correctly.

The doctors behind Farnsworth Family Orthodontics, are here to guide you and your child through life with an expander.

Life with an Expander

If our doctors recommend using an expander, the first step will be to fit the appliance to your child’s needs. The expander will be applied by metal bands connecting the back teeth and securing the device to the roof of the mouth.

The discomfort that comes with the fitting and adjusting stages is only temporary. This discomfort is something we expect as the device helps shape their palate, but it is not something that should cause frequent pain. It’s essential to monitor your child’s expander and let us know if they experience any discomfort that is out of the ordinary. 

The expander itself will take some getting used to for your child. Below are a few things that will change once your child has the expander in place.


Since the orthodontic expander fits on the roof of the mouth, there may be some interference with your child’s speech. As the tongue is restricted in this position, some words will sound slightly different. These initial changes are expected but will improve with practice. It is common for children to feel anxious when speaking with an expander in place; however, rest assured that this will not last for an extended period of time. 

It’s important to help your child practice their speech once the device has been fitted. We recommend offering fun ways for them to practice their speech and overcome this obstacle. This can be done by singing your favorite tunes in the car or reading aloud at home. Once they’re more familiar with the device, their speech will improve, and any troubles will subside.

Eating Habits

Sticky and hard items are a big no-no while the expander is in place, as chewing may feel a bit odd at first. You’ll want to guide your child to consume soft foods for the first few days to avoid any discomfort. Soups, smoothies, and mashed potatoes are the ideal foods during this period.

But, once they have adjusted to the appliance, they can return to normal by reintroducing their everyday foods. 

Caring for the expander

Just as with any orthodontic device, it is important to clean and care for the expander properly. You’ll want to encourage your child to spend more time brushing their teeth each day. They’ll also want to pay attention to the nooks and crannies of the expander. 

We’ve also found it beneficial to try to use a water flosser. This allows them to eliminate any hidden food particles that may remain after brushing. Oral hygiene is always essential, but this is an integral part of life with an expander. 

The doctors behind Farnsworth Family Orthodontics, are here to guide you and your child through life with an expander.

It’s time to give your child the gift of a confident smile.

We work with your child’s natural growth at Farnsworth Family Orthodontics, allowing us to achieve the best smiles. While using an orthodontic expander comes with some upkeep, remember that it is just temporary, and the results will be huge! If your child is in need of early treatment or braces, schedule their free consultation at one of our offices in San Angelo, Carlsbad, Clovis, Hobbs, and Lubbock today.