Last week I posted about how incredibly grumpy I was with my new palate expander. It actually got so bad after I wrote that post that I made an appointment to see my orthodontist to find out if something was wrong. My right molar was hurting so badly that I just knew there was a problem with it.
He checked it out and it turned out that it was totally normal. He asked if it felt like I needed a root canal, and I told him that was exactly what it felt like! Dull throbbing pain all the time and then shooting nerve pain after I bit down on it. He told me he really wanted me to give it two more weeks and then we would talk about whether I couldn’t handle it anymore.
Believe it or not, after one more week, I am actually doing okay. No more cuts on my tongue. No sores from the little screws on the outsides of my teeth. Not a lot of pain from the movement.
Learning How to Talk Right
Although my speech is not back to 100%, I definitely feel like I am talking a lot better. A few letters are still hard to say. The word “key” is almost impossible. But how often do I need to say that? Talking slow is better than talking fast, which is a struggle for me because I talk fast. The more tired that I get, the more that the lisp comes back. But on the whole I am a lot less self-conscious.
Figuring Out How to Eat
This was the most important to me because I was tired of mushy food after 2 weeks of the spacers and then the week of the expander. I’ve picked up a few tricks which I will share in particular with the other adults out there who have expanders and are struggling.
- A straw is my best friend. I always use straws when I drink now. And I have a drink with everything I eat. It’s usually water or iced tea, but sometimes sugar free lemonade. (I don’t drink my wine with a straw!) The straw helps me irrigate the expander after every couple of bites of food. I’m starting to get it down to a science.
- Cut small bites. You don’t have to eat only mushy food, but it does help if you cut everything into small pieces so that it is easier to chew and not as likely to get stuck everywhere.
- Eat pasta. Penne is my favorite because even if it gets stuck in the expander, you can pull it back through easily!
- Give yourself time. Just know that it is going to take you a lot longer to eat now. Embrace it. It’s better for you anyway. I’m the last one done at the table every single night. I order a little less when I eat with friends because I know it will take me longer.
- Learn how to force air between the roof of your mouth and the palate expander with a hard “K” sound. It has feed many a piece of rice for me. I don’t do it in public, but it definitely helps at home.
I ate my first full meal out yesterday for Valentine’s Day. I was definitely careful about what I ordered, having a small bowl of pasta and a bowl of soup. But I also ate some of the bread on the table and some meatball appetizers. And I had chocolate covered strawberries last night! A week ago I would have never imagined that I could have bitten into those because I couldn’t even chew strawberries.
The Pain Gets Better
I can honestly say that I often forget that I have the expander in my mouth. Sometimes it is just because the ibuprofen takes the edge off the pain. Other times there is no pain at all. Some nights when I have my adjustment it will ache for a few hours while I am trying to get to sleep. Last night it wasn’t more than half an hour and it hasn’t hurt all day today.
I guess what I am saying is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel no matter how bad it seems when it starts. Last week I was totally miserable and positive that I would never make it and today, I took control by reading a few articles on and now, I am thinking it’s not all so bad. I have one more week of adjustments before I go in to have my top braces put on. I’m sure that will be quite an adventure!
Read more about my journey: