Your child or teen is finally ready to start their foray into the world of orthodontics. You meet with your care team at Gorman & Bunch Orthodontics and collaborate on a treatment plan, starting with a palate expander. Once your child comes home with their shiny new expander, though, you might be wondering: how do you eat with an expander?

Many children and young adults start their pediatric orthodontic treatment with palate expanders — a very common tool that applies gentle pressure on the roof of the mouth and upper jaw in order to prevent, reduce, or correct the severity of jaw and teeth problems. Since palate expanders are designed to capitalize on changes in the early development of the teeth and jaw, they work best at a young age.

That being said, it’s important to instruct your child on how to properly eat with an expander to avoid damaging their mouths or the appliance. Here are a few tips to consider:

Commit to a Healthy, Balanced Diet

The best rule of thumb for your child is to eat healthy foods everyday. Encourage lots of fruits and vegetables along with meat, healthy whole grains, and dairy. These foods will be the easiest for your child to eat with an expander and most beneficial to their growing bodies.

Avoid Sticky and Hard Foods

Chewy or sticky candy like chewing gum, taffy, licorice, and caramels should be avoided. Hard and crunchy foods like popcorn, nuts, and ice are also not recommended with a palate expander. Instead, opt for softer snacks and try satisfying your child’s sweet tooth with fruit or softer desserts like ice cream.

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Be Mindful About Food Size

While healthy foods are always encouraged, even foods like apples, celery, and carrots could pose a problem to your child’s expander if not eaten properly. Cut crunchy fruits and vegetables into bite-sized pieces before offering them to your child.

Keep in mind that choosing the right foods to eat with an expander is important, but it’s also critical to maintain a consistent oral hygiene routine. Food and other debris can easily get trapped in your child’s palate expander, so encourage your child to brush their teeth twice a day and floss daily in order to avoid cavities and tooth decay. Drinking plenty of fluids with meals and snacks, and swishing with water after eating will also help remove any food that may have gotten stuck.

As always, never hesitate to reach out to your orthodontist at Gorman & Bunch Orthodontics with any questions related to your or your child’s orthodontic treatment. Our mission is to create orthodontic treatments that fit the unique lifestyle and needs of your family.

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