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Caring for Expanders

Here is some helpful information to help with your child's Phase I of treatment!


Spacers are the small blue rubber bands that we will place between your child’s teeth about two weeks before getting their glued-in (fixed) expander. Spacers create small gaps between the molars so that we can easily fit the appliance once it has been made. To keep the spacers in, avoid sticky and chewy foods and also avoid flossing between those teeth. If a spacer does fall out, don’t worry, it may have happened because the space was created! Call our office and we will find a solution for you.

Removable Expanders 

Much like the name, this expander can be removed and is given to patients who need a smaller amount of expansion. This type of expander needs to be worn full time and only removed for eating, brushing and contact sports. It should be cleaned daily with a toothbrush an anti-bacterial soap. Dr. Pfeffer will give you directions on how often you should be turning your removable expander. Be sure to keep your removable expander in its case when it is not being worn and far away from any of your pets! Dogs especially love the smell of expanders and will break them if they get ahold of them. If anything happens to  your expander or if you have any questions feel free to either call the office or email us a photo of your expander so we can answer based on that! Please email photos to

Glued-In (Fixed) Expanders 

Glued-In expanders cannot be removed from the mouth since they are glued to the molars. They will be turned more frequently than the removable expander and should only be turned as often as Dr. Pfeffer directs. Here are some rules of thumb for your fixed expander:

  • They should be brushed with a soft bristled tooth brush when brushing the teeth
  • Certain foods should be avoided. Foods that are sticky, chewy, and hard. Some of these foods include popcorn, peanuts, gum, caramel, and hard chips.
  • Turn your expander as directed by Dr. Pfeffer


If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s expander care or treatment please give the office a call at 858-756-6878. If you have questions after hours or over the weekend, please reach out to us via email at

For more information regarding the care of your braces, please visit our Youtube Channel!