Some children have a very narrow upper jaw, resulting in their upper teeth biting on the inside of the lower teeth. This is called a crossbite. Expanding the width of the upper jaw early can create an ideal environment for the jaw as it grows throughout teenage years and can give the adult teeth the best chance to come through in a good position.
It is ideal for patients to undergo expansion treatment between the ages of 8 and 12 years, as the upper jaw has a growth plate that can be easily stretched. Adults can still undergo expansion, but a surgical procedure is required to separate the growth plate.
There are two main types of expansion appliance:
Rapid Maxillary Expander
A Rapid Maxillary Expander (RME) is an appliance that is glued onto the upper back teeth and connected across the palate with a screw. The screw is turned once a day at home for a specific amount of days to achieve the ideal amount of expansion. This appliance is custom made for each patient, making it comfortable and easy to get used to.
A Quadhelix is an expansion appliance used more commonly in younger children. It consists of two bands, which are glued to the upper 6-year-old molars and an expansion wire across the palate, which is compressed when fitted. This wire gradually expands and pushes the teeth at the back outwards. A Quadhelix can be modified to push front teeth forward and can also be used to help break a thumb or finger sucking habit.