Orthodontic Expanders – Part I Quad Helix

There are several indication for orthodontic expansion. The first is what is called a cross-bite. A cross-bite is a orthodontic problem in which the top teeth are inside of the bottom teeth (there is another type of cross-bite but for the sake of comprehension we will not go into it here). They can occur in the front teeth (anterior teeth) and the back teeth (posterior teeth).

Another indication for expansion is for the correction of dental crowding. Crowding is an orthodontic problem in which the width of the teeth is greater than the amount of bone available to house those teeth. The most common biproduct is rotated teeth. This is by far one of the most common orthodontic problems. In simplified terms there are really only two way in which to resolve crowding. They are making more space and expansion. There are two ways to make space which are polishing between teeth or extractions (taking teeth out).

There are many ways to achieve orthodontic expansion and each orthodontist has their preferred method for achieving such movement. At Humphries Orthodontics we generally use one of three different methods for expansion depending upon the specific needs of each patient. These methods include expansion using arch wires (expansion using just the braces and wires) and two different orthodontic appliances. The two appliances are both orthopedic in nature in that they transfer forces from the appliance to the underlying bone via the teeth to cause changes in the bone. The two appliance we use are the hyrax and the quad helix.

The quad helix (called quad or expander for short) is comprised of orthodontic bands on the maxillary (upper) molars and some wires. There are two wires that lay along the inside of the upper teeth and another wire with four helices that is connect between the right and left molar bands. The quad is essentially a large spring and it is convenient that it is a compliance independent appliance. The quad helix is adjusted prior to being cemented into a patient’s mouth and the expansion occurs slowly over the course of 6-9 months. Occasionally Dr. Humphries will make adjustments to the expander at the routine adjustment appointments.

Generally speaking the quad helix is a very effective appliance and it is easily tolerated by patients (especially those in a first phase of orthodontic treatment). Some patients may have difficulty speaking immediately after the delivery of the appliance but adjust shortly afterward. We even have patients that are accomplished singers that have had not problem singing with the appliance.

If you have any questions regarding a quad helix or any other orthodontic concerns please do not hesitate to give our office a call

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