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Archive for January, 2012

Orthodontics: Purpose of a Palatal Expander

braces Wilton CTWhen people think about orthodontics, they usually think first of braces. However, there are other orthodontic treatments commonly used to improve the look or the smile or the alignment of the teeth. One of these treatments is a palatal expander. If you are in need of braces in Wilton CT, our orthodontist can explain how braces or a palatal expander can help you.

What is a Palatal Expander?

A palatal expander is also referred to as a palate expander, an orthodontic expander, or a rapid palatal expander. It is used to widen the palate, or the roof of the mouth. It is most often used on younger patients whose palates are still growing. It can also be used with adults, but this is less common.

When permanent teeth begin to come emerge in younger patients, crowding can become apparent. When teeth are crowded, there simply isn’t enough room in the mouth to accommodate them. Because of the lack of space, the teeth often grow in crooked or overlapping. In some cases, a palatal expander can create more room in the mouth so that these teeth can come in properly.

A palatal expander can also be used to widen the upper palate when the upper and lower jaw do not fit together properly, causing problems with bite alignment. Your orthodontist can provide information on whether a palate expander is an appropriate treatment, and what kind of results you can expect to see when treatment is complete.

How a Palatal Expander Works

The palatal expander is placed on the roof of the mouth and anchored to the teeth on the lingual side, or the side facing the tongue. A key inserted into the expander allows it to be gradually adjusted so that it widens the palate over a period of time. Because the child’s palate has not fully developed, the expander can gradually separate the bony structures in the roof of the mouth. In adults, the process is more gradual.

For more information on palatal expanders and to schedule a consultation, please contact Georgetown Orthodontics at 203-544-9338.

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Orthodontics for Treating TMJ Disorders

The temporomandibular joint, also referred to as the TMJ, is the joint where the lower jaw or mandible joins the upper jaw near the temporal bone. This joint can become misaligned, leading to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms that can be difficult to diagnose. In some cases, orthodontic treatment is used to help adjust the alignment of the TMJ and reduce or eliminate the symptoms.

Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

TMJ disorders occur when the temporomandibular joint becomes misaligned. Causes of the misalignment vary, but can include:

  • Bite problems
  • Stress
  • Habitual teeth grinding and clenching

Bite problems cause misalignment because the teeth do not move in the proper relationship to each other. This can cause the TMJ to move out of alignment. Bite problems can also cause teeth grinding and clenching, which can be either a cause or a symptom of TMJ disorders.

Other symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Jaw discomfort
  • Ear discomfort
  • Discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and upper back

These symptoms can occur due to other issues, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. Once you have been diagnosed with TMJ disorder, your dentist can provide treatment and recommendations for management. [pullquote]In some cases, orthodontic treatment is used to help adjust the alignment of the TMJ and reduce or eliminate the symptoms.[/pullquote]

How Orthodontics Can Help TMJ Disorders

Orthodontics is one effective approach often used with TMJ disorder. If your TMJ is caused by misalignment or bite problems, braces can be used to move your teeth back into the proper position. Once your teeth are positioned correctly, the TMJ will also shift back into its optimal alignment. This will reduce or even eliminate your ongoing symptoms as well as prevent abnormal wear and tear to your teeth, which can occur when teeth are misaligned.

Other treatment for TMJ disorder can include stress reduction, muscle stimulation to reduce tension in the jaw, heat applied to the joint, or, in serious cases, surgery to repair the joint.

If you have experienced TMJ symptoms, please call our office to find out how treatment with orthodontics in Georgetown CT 06896 can help.

Posted in: orthodontics

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