Young girl with braces smiling

Retainers, Expanders and Braces. Where Do I Start?

As children age, so do their teeth. And if their teeth don’t develop in the way they want, teens or pre-teens can get orthodontic devices to correct the alignment of their teeth. 

At Bay Area Orthodontics, we offer a wide range of appliances to help your kids feel confident with their teeth. Aside from metal and clear braces, we also offer other options such as retainers and expanders. To help you understand which device works best for your child, we have come up with a comprehensive guide to go more in-depth on each of your choices. 


Braces are one of the most common solutions to teeth alignment problems because they effectively correct the position of the teeth. At Bay Area Orthodontics, we have three types of teeth straightening options to choose from — metal braces, clear braces or aligners. 

  • Metal Braces: Metal braces are now more lightweight than ever. They’re made from high-grade stainless steel, making them durable and long-lasting. They offer comfort and security to ensure the teeth realign the way they’re supposed to.

  • Clear Braces: Clear braces work the same way as traditional metal ones. The only difference is that the brackets are made with a clear, transparent ceramic material to make the braces look more discreet. 

  • Aligners:  Aligners are a way to straighten their teeth without metal wires and brackets. It’s best for those who have mild to moderate cases of misalignment, as more complex cases may require traditional braces.

When Are They Used?

Often, braces are used during adolescence when signs of crowded or crooked teeth begin to appear. But in recent years, more and more adults are interested in getting corrective braces to straighten their teeth. 

How Can They Help?

Braces can help your child in many ways, including improving the following issues:

  • Jaw pain

  • Difficulty in eating or chewing

  • Speech impediments

  • Teeth grinding or clenching

  • Tooth decay and gum disease

  • Sleep conditions caused by snoring or mouth breathing


Expanders can also be used to correct malocclusions — a condition where the teeth are not aligned properly. While these type of appliances are often used alongside braces, it can be used on its own. 

Depending on what type of malocclusions your child is experiencing, the type of expander may vary. Some options may include: Schwartz expanders or rapid palatal expanders. 

When Are They Used?

Typically, expanders are recommended for children whose jaw bones are still developing. This will allow the orthodontist to manipulate the growth of their teeth and the shape of their jaw bone, especially when their bite is extremely out of alignment. 

How Can They Help?

Whether your child is experiencing an overjet, overbite, crossbite, or underbite, wearing expanders at an early age can help them correct the position of their teeth and jaw bones. When they grow up, they can minimize their dental complications and feel more confident in their smile.


In orthodontics, retainers are often recommended after getting braces or expanders as this particular device is used to maintain the alignment of your child’s teeth.

Much like braces, there are different types of retainers to choose from. These include:

  • Essix Retainers: These are transparent removable retainers that fit over the entirety of the teeth’s arch. They’re a great option for people who want to have a more natural and discrete appearance.

  • Hawley Retainers: These are one of the most common types of removable retainers that combine metal wires with acrylic. Much like Essix retainers, they’re designed to keep teeth in place, but they’re more noticeable when worn. 

How Can They Help?

Retainers are essential once the braces come off. They will help prevent the teeth from reverting to their original position and aid in straightening the teeth for longer periods. But for retainers to work properly, your child needs to be diligent with wearing them on a daily or nightly basis.

Find Out the Type of Orthodontic Device You Need To Start With

The type of orthodontic device your child needs to start with will vary depending on how old they are and the condition of their teeth. We recommend that patients consult with our experts at Bay Area Orthodontics so we can find the best solution. 

Contact us at (408) 539-2613 to schedule an appointment. Together, let’s create smiles that make the best impression.

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