What is the difference between traditional expanders and Invisalign expansion? Today’s orthodontic techniques are a far cry from the decades when patients had to endure ponderous hardware and lengthy treatment times! Some of the newest cutting-edge orthodontic practices are so lightweight and streamlined you may hardly know they are there!
No matter what type of oral health treatment you or your child requires, there is now a way to achieve faster and more comfortable results. Here, your choice of an orthodontist can greatly influence treatment times and outcomes – you want to work with a physician knowledgeable in the newest, most efficient practices in the field!
One common question many new patients ask is whether they qualify to use the clear aligners (Invisalign) rather than traditional metal expanders. This is an excellent question and in this article, the board-certified practitioners at Marin Ortho give you an overview of what each has to offer, their similarities and differences and a general profile of the ideal patient for each treatment type.
THE DOCTOR SAYS…
– Expansion usually takes 6-12 months regardless of what type of expansion technique we use, when you consider both the active expansion and the stabilization phase.
– Both conventional expanders and Invisalign yield comparable results for our patients
– Early expansion can eliminate the need for both the removal of baby and permanent teeth
Invisalign is an orthodontic treatment approach that has been in use since the late 1990s. Marin Ortho is a Top 1% Elite Preferred Provider for North America. Aligners, as their name suggests, are more like temporary retainers than permanent braces. This is because you can take them in and out at any time.
They are also made of a translucent material and they fit only over the bottom front of your teeth, so they are nearly invisible unless you look very closely! Invisalign is available as a treatment for adults, teens and children. This system uses a series of aligners that are typically changed out weekly. Teeth are gradually and comfortably repositioned.
Invisible And Complementary With Other Orthodontic Treatments
There are several obvious and some not-so-obvious benefits to using the Invisalign technology. One, of course, is that they are nearly invisible! Another is that Invisalign aligners can be used with other treatment devices like sectional braces, metal expanders, and habit appliances.
Yet another is that the aligners can be removed as needed for special events, although the more time they are worn (23 hours per day is ideal over the course of treatment) the faster you will get results.
Easy To Manage And Clean
The aligners are also easier to manage, especially for younger patients, since they require no dietary restrictions or extra time spent brushing and flossing around permanent hardware. And they are definitely comfier, with no hard edges that might irritate the soft tissues of the inside of mouth and cheeks.
THE DOCTOR SAYS…
– We recommend removing the clear trays during eating and rinsing with water thoroughly before putting them back in. It helps to carry a refillable water bottle.
One particular benefit that all patients (and especially parents) seem to love is that since the aligners can be created in advance using advanced computer imaging, this cuts down on the need to return to the orthodontic office for maintenance visits and adjustments. We can also remotely monitor patient progress through an app, limiting the amount of in-office check up appointments.
An Independent Treatment Solution
Invisalign is an amazing system for patients who qualify! Generally speaking, you may be a good candidate for aligner-based treatment if you have the discipline to wear your aligners daily for the recommended time period of 20-22 hours and you need or desire a more discreet method of treatment.
As great as Invisalign sounds and as many benefits as this treatment offers, it is not the right choice for every patient. Traditional metal expanders are glued to the teeth and require the patient and parent to be diligent with daily maintenance of the device. It needs to be turned everyday for six weeks until proper expansion has been achieved. Once the doctor approves of the width the expander stays in the mouth for 6 months for a holding period to stabilize and maintain the results.
THE DOCTOR SAYS…
– Conventional expanders are “glued” into place and are never removed. We provide dental “pipe cleaners” to help remove any food that can get stuck during eating. With conventional expanders, patients cannot eat anything too hard or too sticky to avoid breakage or loosening.
Traditional expanders take advantage of young still-growing patients by widening the upper palate before the two halves fuse together. This can help significantly increase airway sizes for younger patients who have experienced breathing issues like child sleep apnea.
Tried and True
Metal expanders have been the most common way to achieve a wide palate and in the hands of a skilled provider, this is a treatment you can trust to deliver results.
Less Patient Responsibility
As great as aligners may be, they are not the right choice for all patients. This can be especially true for the youngest patients who may readily misplace or forget to insert aligners, which can cause costly and inconvenient treatment delays. Traditional expanders stay where they are put. This makes them a great choice for early-life treatment needs!
Expanders are placed on the palate and attached to the back teeth making it relatively hidden.
THE DOCTOR SAYS…
– By patient report, the clear aligners are more comfortable and do not interfere with speech or food choices. We typically do not offer clear aligners to patients with airway problems, so we still use both types of expansion in our practice. If for some reason clear aligners are not a good fit for a patient, we can transition them to conventional expanders at no additional charge, but we have not found this to be an issue in our practice.
Traditional expanders will usually cause a gap to form in between the two front teeth and between the teeth immediately next to them. This is because it physically is separating and widening the top palatal bones before they completely fuse together. The gaps formed are beneficial to our younger patients as it gives their last few adult teeth coming in plenty of space to come in, lessening the need for assisted eruption. Any gaps or aesthetic problems can be easily fixed with Invisalign after the necessary amount of expansion has been reached at no extra charge.
- Non – Invasive procedure (no bone cutting or teeth pulling)
- Available to post-puberty patients
- Attached to palatal bones instead of using teeth as “handles”
MARPE stands for Miniscrew-Assisted Rapid Palatal Expansion and is an eﬀective noninvasive treatment approach for expanding the upper jaw. A narrow jaw is associated with symptoms and characteristics of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) such as nasal obstruction, crowded teeth, and hindered facial development. Traditional expanders are commonly used treat obstructive sleep apnea however they are limited to children who have not yet reached puberty. This is because the joint holding the two upper jaw pieces together doesn’t harden until puberty. The MARPE extends the amount of time available to do expansion because it attaches directly to the palatal bone instead of using the teeth as “handles”.
MARPE works by turning miniscrews daily to gradually put pressure on the suture in order to widen the upper palate creating more space in the mouth and in the nasal cavities. A wider palate also decreases nasal resistance and gives the tongue more room to rest on the roof of the mouth, making the airway larger. The procedure is relatively quick (20-30min) and only requires local anesthesia. Pain is minimal and can be managed with over the counter pain killers. Following the procedure the patient will be turning the screw once a day for 4-6 weeks and then the MARPE will be removed 4-6 months after turning has stopped in order to stabilize the expansion.
Expander | Traditional and Invisalign