Not all breathing problems are caused by the respiratory system; some are simply a result of developmental factors, such as a deviated septum or narrow palate. The latter can be corrected with an expander, which slowly widens your jaw and corrects breathing issues, congestion, and tooth crowding. If you or your child has breathing problems caused by a narrow jaw, it’s worth bringing up to your orthodontist.
At ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics in Happy Valley, Clackamas, Oregon, orthodontist Dr. Gary Chapman does a full examination and helps determine if expanders are the right solution for you.
When expanders are necessary
Expanders are a simple concept: they exert gentle pressure on your jaw, pushing it outward. This is done by fixing the device to your molars and slowly increasing the pressure over time, giving the joint more room to move, and increasing the space allowed for the bite to align.
Generally, a palate expander is used to correct a narrow jaw. However, widening the jaw can correct other issues, including:
- Crowded teeth
- Difficulty breathing
Difficulty breathing, especially at night, can cause snoring, mouth breathing, a sore throat, and poor sleep quality. Over time, these symptoms can worsen and affect performance at school, work, or in social situations.
Children and adults who struggle to breathe easily might benefit the most from an expander. Expanders are often recommended for children as part of early intervention, but many adults seek out orthodontic treatments later in life.
Benefits of jaw expansion
Your jaw isn’t the only thing that’s widened by an expander. As your palate widens, the two halves separate, and new bone forms in the middle. This opens up your airway, allowing you to breathe easily through your nose.
An open airway reduces congestion, and can even help prevent recurring sinus infections. Along with improving your breathing, expanders can also help prepare your teeth for further work, including braces and clear aligners. The use of an expander before more extensive orthodontic work on adults and children can actually reduce the amount of time that has to be spent in braces, making the process smoother and less uncomfortable.
Like all orthodontic treatments, an expander takes time to work — especially if your child’s jaw has already finished developing. If you’re thinking about investing in their smile by getting them orthodontic work, you’re better off starting sooner rather than later.
Considering an expander to help you or your child breathe better? Dr. Chapman can explain the process in detail and go over your treatment options. To schedule a consultation, call 503-336-1883, or request an appointment online.