13 Jun, 2022

Orthodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention and correction of misaligned teeth and jaws, which usually requires the use of a fixed or a removable palate expander or orthodontic headgear. Occasionally, it requires surgical intervention.


  • Improves the alignment of teeth and jaws
  • Improves dental and gum health
  • Improves occlusion (contact between teeth) and facilitates chewing and speaking

What are the potential disadvantages?

The patient's teeth and gum need to be in good physical condition at the end of treatment. However, disregarding the application of good dental care can lead to:
  • Tooth decay starts as white spots that gradually turn brown or black in color.
  • Gingival pockets are an abnormal depth of the gingival sulcus where harmful bacteria can thrive.
  • Gingival swallowing and bleeding, which is a sign of an infection.

What can be done to manage these risks?

Patients should carefully follow doctors' orders, to mention but a few:
  • Use a regular and/or an orthodontic toothbrush together with a fluoride-rich toothpaste to brush your teeth after every meal.
  • Gargle and rinse to remove any remaining bits the brush could not reach.
  • Limit consumption of soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages, mainly when using a fixed palate expander.
  • Limit consumption of foods high in artificial sugar, especially glutinous (sticky) types such as tofu and chewing gum. Patients should also cut hard foods to smaller pieces before eating, such as chopping nuts and slicing apples and carrots.
  • Avoid using teeth to open bottles and cans.

Suppose the attending dentist spots a deterioration in your oral health or detects symptoms of any of the conditions mentioned. In that case, they are entailed to stop your treatment temporarily or permanently to prevent any multiplications.

Orthodontics and Pain

There will be some discomfort in the first three to five days with a palate expander. This pain can be relieved with OTC painkillers (preferably, patients should consult their doctor to avoid allergic reactions). Patients who suffer from sharp or constant pains are advised to contact their doctor immediately.

Some sharp parts of the expander, such as arch wires and metal brackets, may irritate your lips and inner cheeks. To avoid any discomfort, it is recommended to use a special dental wax to cover sharp parts. In addition, in cases where patients are allergic to certain metal used to mold expanders and retainers, such as nickel, patients must inform the doctor who then replaces said metals with others.

Dental care with expanders

The doctor will require the patient to wear a dental retainer to keep expanders firmly in place. Therefore, it is essential to fully comply with using the retainer. Notably, patients might experience a small change after taking out the retainer, and this change will continue through different stages, which is standard with age.

Doctors sometimes apply Teflon tapes to patients' teeth between visits, once again highlighting the importance of following specific guidelines and timetables. If you lose or break an arch wire, contact your dentist immediately to get the necessary care.