Dental Fun Update III: Braces on/Braces off

Well, I guess I missed a post!

For the many readers who have been following D’s palate expander to braces journey, I have quite an update.  Braces are off!

Now, let me back up for a bit, because I neglected to mention that D had his braces put on in October 2014.  We had been in a holding pattern for about a year, waiting for all of his baby teeth to fall out prior to resuming treatment.  He also has that residual arch appliance (a little bridge, if you will, to keep his palatal arch from moving) from after they removed the palate expander until about 6 months into his braces journey.  Then, they removed that and he just had the braces.

The journey went very fast, thanks to D’s compliance with wearing his elastics religiously, and the skilled hands of our orthodontist.  D’s braces were removed on Feb 8th, 2016 and we are now in the land of retainers!  Time-wise, he had his braces on for exactly 16 months which really flew by.   In all, since his early treatment with the palate expander, he spent just over 4 years fixing many, many issues he had (some of that time was spent waiting inbetween).  Every cent spent was worth it.

Remember his broken teeth from the bike accident?  We had those bonded shortly before the final impressions for his permanent retainer. So, I guess, with the exception of retainer checks, we are done treatment.

I will tell you, the time went so very fast.

If you are seeing this post for the first time, please take a moment to read my archives to find out about the journey.

Part I

Part II

Also- there are so many of you that commented on my first post, if you are new to the land of orthodontics and specifically want to hear from others about their journey, there are nearly 100 comments to read that may be helpful. Almost all center around the palate expander since it still is the hardest to find information on this torture device (kidding). There is no reason to fear the expander!!

Of course, if you have any specific questions, you can comment here, I will answer, and maybe a few of my fellow readers will as well!

Keep Smiling!! 😉


Braces off!! February 2016

Dental Fun Update II: Palate Expander

I had no idea the flurry of traffic that would generate from my post in April about D’s palate expander. So it only made sense to post a progress report, because… what’s a story without an ending? (insert snark here for my long-time readers)

So, D got his palate expander off in May! It was a jubliant event. We celebrated by eating copious amounts of swedish fish. …ok, no we didn’t, and I’ll tell you why.

The last step in this process is fitting the retainer for D’s mouth. After all the hard work of perfecting the palatal arch a retainer is needed until the palate fuses shut.  In all, D had his expander on for 7 months.  In April we went to the orthodontist for those gooey impressions once again for the retainer (which takes the place of the expander). For 10 minutes we were free of the “gear box” while he got the impressions.   Freedom!  …not.

Alas, all good things come to an end. After suitable molds were made, D had his expander glued back on. Then we waited two weeks to finally get rid of it for good.



D returned to Ortho in May for the new appliance (also known as a transpalatal arch- see picture) which is a simple wire with a small rigid part anchored to the same two molars the expander was connected to. D says it’s like having nothing in his mouth at all. Sadly, we still have to avoid the really sticky foods, BUT the benefits of keeping his now-perfect palate alignment will far outweigh the taste of swedish fish.

Truth be told, he actually missed that darn thing once it was out (hard to believe, right?).  It did take a few days to get used to the retainer and having less metal in his mouth. The great thing is practically nothing gets stuck in the retainer unlike the expander.  He brushes his teeth as normal too. However, we did discover that popcorn is a No-Go (still).

So the retainer stays in for the foreseeable future. If you remember from the last post, we have the added fun of watching and waiting on the two broken teeth from his bike accident last fall. We know D will need braces, but he still has a lot of baby teeth to lose. In fact, he’s lost four just in the last two months. Until D has a mouth of permanent teeth, and we can finally see the damage to his broken teeth, we are in a holding pattern.  Now, for some of you, your doctor may suggest another route to braces.  I have learned that there’s varied opinion on when braces are appropriate (some orthodontists split it up into a Phase 1 & 2 process).  In fact, that’s an entirely different discussion.  Always speak with your orthodontist to determine what is the correct path for your child after expansion.

Thank you for your comments and e-mails.  If you have any questions, comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them!

Dental fun: Palate Expander

I wanted to write about my son’s experience with a palatal expander, mostly because when I googled to learn about it, I found there’s not enough real information out there.  Or should I say good information beyond the stories highlighting  pain! agony! money!  …you know the drill.  Hopefully, if your child needs one, I can at least offer up some real info and peace of mind.


The “gear box”

What is a palate expander?  It’s a dental device that widens the upper jaw.  It’s usually done before braces, and most effective (and painless) when used on children… mostly because the palate has not fused yet, so the widening part is a little less traumatic.


D in the hospital, poor baby!

D has A LOT of issues with teeth crowding, an overbite, and a very small mouth.  The perfect storm that leads to braces.  Using the palate expander is the first step in making room for the rouge teeth that can’t squeeze into place.

Ironically, just as we started the process (in November of last year), D had an accident on his bike.  He broke two permanent teeth (Argh!! I KNOW! It couldn’t have been the baby teeth, right?!) which made the process even more important since one of his damaged teeth split up the middle, and buried in his gums because of the crowding.

He had a few appointments leading up to the placement of the appliance, mostly for x-rays, impressions, spacers, and preparing his teeth for the device.  His device was placed on December 12, 2012.  He had the easy part…  me, I had the job to turn the appliance each night with a key.  Yes, it’s exactly as you imagine…  each night my hubby held a flashlight, and I had the distinct honor to crank the device.  For 30 days.  Trust me, the only pain felt by anyone was my severe mommy angst wondering if I was torturing him.  D had zero pain, except for an immediate sense of tightening which went away minutes later after each turn.

First couple of days?  The biggest challenge was eating and talking.  It takes time to get used to a metal gear in your mouth, and D was none too happy at first, but after the initial couple of days things were starting to look up.  By the third day we transitioned to no-soft foods, and by the end of the week, he was eating normally again.  As for his speech, they say that it comes back in time, but to be honest he had and has continued to have a really hard time pronouncing some words (mostly those with a long “e”) and… well, it did get better but not perfect.  I guess this varies by individual.

The good news is the palate expander is temporary.  D will be getting his removed later this month, and his “gear box” as we affectionately named it, gets replaced with a simple arched appliance until which time he moves into braces.   The upside?  His teeth are shiny clean because when you have this appliance , you have no choice but to brush your teeth religiously!  The down side is you have to stay away from sticky foods.  Luckily for D, nachos are still open-season. 🙂

The last 6 months have flown by!  I already see improvement in his mouth, and since he is starting to lose baby teeth again, he now has the room for his second teeth to finally drop down.  Yep, they’ll be crooked, but that’s for the braces to straighten out!

As for the damaged teeth from the accident, we will need bonding for his chipped front tooth, and (maybe) root canal or replacement for the other one.  That remains to be seen for now.  We will take it one day at a time.


palate expanders… not scary

bikes… are the devil.


Edit:  I posted an update on D’s progress.  Didn’t read it yet?  Get it here.