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I was told that my daughter will need upper jaw expansion.. what is that exactly? what is done to her mouth ? how long does is take on average or is it like braces? and is it painful?
It sounds like your dentist has recommended a Palatal Expander for your daughter. This is a little device that has two loops that are cemented to her back molars and an acrylic/metal middle piece that is custom fit for the roof of her mouth. The purpose of this appliance is usually to create room when there are a lot of crowded teeth and is often used prior to the placement of braces for a full orthodontic treatment. By using this appliance, your daughter can avoid having teeth extracted, which can have many benefits. The Palatal Expander has also been used for treatment of Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome in children.
Your dentist can give you a better idea of how long your daughter will be wearing the appliance, usually the appliance is worn for a period of weeks where it is actively adjusted and then worn for a few months to stabilize. This treatment will require you place a little device into the center of the Expander and turn it once per day to make very slow movements to widen the palate. It's kind of like a more sophisticated shoe stretcher, if you've ever used one!
Any time you add something to mouth like a retainer, braces, or expander, an immediate temporary response is to feel like you have a LOT of saliva, so your daughter may sound like she's slurping when she speaks for the first few days. As you turn the device to expand, your daughter may feel pressure on her teeth, nose, and sometimes even eyes but this will subside after a few minutes. The first couple of days after the appliance is placed are usually the hardest, so you might want to have some favorite foods on hand until she becomes accustomed to chewing with the expander in place like mashed potatoes, yogurt, ice cream, soups, or watermelon. She should avoid sticky fruit snacks, gummy candy, or caramels as they will cling to the expander and be very difficult to remove.
There may be slight discomfort in the initial phases of movement and this can be treated with her normal pain reliever and the soft diet mentioned above.
Good luck to your daughter, it will require a little patience but will be worth it in the end!