Hello! I hope you are doing well. This blog is about the first stage of my dental treatment: the maxillary expansion and how it is to get palate expanders? Firstly, let’s know more about palatal expanders and why does anyone need them? As the name suggests, the expanders are used to widen the narrow palate (roof of the mouth) to get a proper bite. In many cases like mine, the lower jaw is normal, and the upper jaw is narrow, and hence teeth do not fit well, leading to a crossbite. It could happen due to multiple reasons such as thumb sucking, mouth breathing, or even genetics. It needs to be corrected in whichever case, and it is better to be treated at a younger age of about 9 to 12, which makes the process easier and faster. A crossbite is not only a cosmetic problem. Still, it can also cause pain in the jaw and teeth, tooth decay (which happens to me all the time), sleep apnea, difficulty speaking, frequent headaches, temporomandibular joint disorders, pain in the neck and shoulders.
In my case, as I recollect, it was my dentist and my parents who didn’t pay attention initially and was later brought into attention in 2015. I was then 20 years old in my first year of graduation. I went ahead with my expansion, followed by ceramic braces to align my teeth. I remember having difficulty in eating and speaking and going through pain as I expanded the expander manually. As my jaw expanded, the space between my teeth increased, and the gap in my front teeth was more noticeable. I was made fun of by calling various names and most commonly as ‘India Gate. I stopped smiling, showing off my teeth, and I was super embarrassed to speak. However, after a year and a half long treatment, I did not get desired results, and the treatment relapsed due to a lack of post-treatment measures. But I still had manageable teeth, and to be honest, I was tired of going through pain all over again. However, the crossbite still existed, and it did invite more tooth decay problems, and I decided to go for it again once I am settled in one country and make myself available for a few years.
Palatal Expansion 2021
As I had a bad experience with braces in the past, I looked for a dentist who can help me get Invisalign and had a good experience with orthodontics. The dentist asked me to get scans of my face and decided I need an expander as Invisalign won’t help treat the crossbite. Once the expansion is done, I would have Invisalign for more or less 2 years and retainers for 10 years. Trust me, when I heard this, I was extremely disappointed and wished good teeth. But you have to do what needs to be done and agree to go ahead with it.
The dentist took measurements of my teeth and got a palatal expander ordered, which has a nickel-titanium loop. It is better than the traditional expander as this alloy has shape memory and expands on its own.
Day 1 – Fixing the expander took about 30 minutes, and it was a painless procedure. However, I could definitely feel the pressure of the ring and loop. I was advised to have soft food for a few days till I get used to the expanders. I had difficulty speaking as my tongue was not used to a foreign object, which led to an increase in saliva secretion.
Day 2 – It was much better than the first day, and I attempted having semi-solid food. However, my speech was bad, and everyone had difficulty understanding.
Day 3 – I tried having paratha and curd, which were still soft. The funniest part is when food gets accumulated over the expander, and the only thing that helped is water. Also, I injured my tongue while casually moving around.
Day 4 – I practiced words that were initially harder to say and my speech much better. This time rather than avoiding talking to people, I spoke more and more, which made me confident about my speech and helped me improvise.
Day 5 – Today my tongue got stuck in the clip of the expander that caused bleeding.
Day 6 – I had the food same as my family. I did have difficulty chewing but it was manageable.
Day 7 – I would say compared to days 1 and 2, day 7 was definitely better. My speech was much clearer, my food intake was back to normal, and I had more control over my tongue. I would have pain in my teeth once in a while, and my tongue had a mark of the loop on it.
I’m sure things are going to get better as time passes. The expanders will probably stay for another 4 or 5 months, and I’m still getting used to them, trying to improve my speech each day. And hoping for positive results as it is rightly said, “No pain, no gain.”
Care: Irrespective of whether you are undergoing a dental treatment or not, it is important to brush twice or thrice if possible and floss well. A water flosser is an excellent alternative to traditional flossing as it gives better cleaning. I have noticed a huge difference since I have started using a water flosser. It tremendously helped me as my current tooth structure allows settling many food particles, causing decays.
Let me know in the comments below if you want to know more about my experience and want a post palatal expander blog.
Lots of love!
Healthline (2020) https://www.healthline.com/health/crossbite#pictures
Newmouth (2021) https://www.newmouth.com/orthodontics/treatment/palate-expanders/