How to Fix Crowding and Crossbite with Schwartz Expander


Implementing oral dental care early in life is essential for the proper development of teeth and jaw. Today’s dental market offers countless solutions which impact a variety of issues in both children and adults. When it comes to maintaining teeth health in children, many tools can be just as efficient and necessary to use as braces and retainers.

Today, we are introducing the Schwartz appliance, a popular device which serves as both a jaw expander and teeth aligner. This effective orthodontic appliance has become a leading treatment in managing posterior crossbites and crowding in children. Still, the appliance is not as popular as braces and has a certain stigma surrounding it.

So, how is the Schwartz appliance used exactly? What are its benefits and when it is best used?

To learn all this and more, read the detailed article below.

What is a Schwartz Appliance?

The Schwartz appliance is an orthodontic tool which helps children with a variety of dental issues. Mostly, this device focuses on solving a number of jaw and teeth problems, such as crowding, narrow jaw and more. The Schwartz appliance is a removable device which targets the mandible jaw and treats related crossbite and crowding issues.

How does the Schwartz Appliance work?

The appliance itself uses a turning expansion key, which is set up once or twice per week. The device expands the jaw and teeth, making sure the teeth end up in a lateral position. As it affects the mandibular arch the most, the appliance requires frequent adjustments based on the progress. The appliance is intended for children exclusively, though recent debates question whether adults can benefit from it, too.

All Schwartz appliances come in many colors and designs, aspects which help children like their appliance better.

How many types of the Schwartz appliance are there?

Depending on the condition and diagnosis, children can wear either an upper & lower Schwarz appliance or a three-way Schwartz appliance. The first type focuses on proper development in the upper and/or lower jaw arch. At the same time, the three-way Schwarz appliance impacts the upper arch alone, thus enhancing the anterior and lateral development.

How long does the treatment last?

Again, depending on each particular case, the appliance can be worn from 4 to 9 months. If an extra expansion is necessary, your orthodontist might also use a Rapid Palatal Expander.

How to wear and maintain a Schwartz appliance?

There are several instructions which can help you make the most of your Schwartz appliance. When using your Schwartz appliance, keep in mind of the indications suggested below.

  • Even though the lower appliance expander is mobile, it is best the child wear it at all times. The device can come off during teeth brushing, but it should stay on during eating.
  • In terms of food, avoid chewy and hard foods which could potentially crack the appliance.
  • Keep in mind the appliance is very fragile and gentle, so check for any breaks regularly.
  • Children should not move the appliance with their tongue. This can affect the successfulness of the device itself and can even break the metal clasps. The best way to place or take out the device is by using fingers.
  • If there are any noticeable cracks or malfunctions in the appliance, make an appointment with your orthodontist at once.
  • Much like brushing the teeth, the appliance needs cleaning as well. Avoid using hot water when rinsing it, but use a bit of toothpaste to clean it. As you do with braces, cleanse the appliance well and brush it with a toothbrush if necessary.
  • Use the adjustment key once or twice per week, in accordance with your orthodontist’s instructions. The screw is turned with a key by 90 degrees, and in the direction the appliance suggests.

What does the Schwartz Appliance help with?

The Schwartz appliance focuses on phase 1 growth guidance orthodontic treatments. Such can include:

  • Crossbite – a condition which shows unevenness in the upper and lower jaw. This condition affects the normal bite in children, but it is treated successfully.
  • Crowding – when the teeth just don’t have enough space to spread along the jaws.
  • Impacted teeth – teeth which usually grow underneath the gums, due to insufficient moving space in the jaw.
  • Breathing issues – at times, a tight and narrow jaw can lead to airways blockage, causing conditions like sleep apnea. The Schwartz appliance serves to expand the jaw, thus improving the breathing process.
  • Cleft palate – the condition requires expansion of the palates before additional treatments are implemented.
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Does wearing a Schwartz appliance hurt?

Having in mind that children wear the device, it is important to discuss possible discomfort. Now, despite popular opinions, the device does not cause any significant pain. In fact, your child might experience a slight tightness or discomfort in the jaw, but not pain. Some children experience difficulties speaking or eating; side-effects which fade once the child gets used to the device.

Similar side-effects which can occur include:

  • Feeling extra pressure when the device takes effect.
  • Excessive salivating due to getting used to the appliance.
  • Extra discomfort in the nose, ears, roof of the mouth and between the eyes, upon turning the screw key.
  • Different changes in the face as a result of wearing the appliance. Some patients reported a drastic change in their face, while others reported none whatsoever. Most facial changes, if any, are likely to happen around the nose and upper jaw. With this, the smile can expand even further and the facial traits can flatten.
  • Some children experience a gap between their front teeth, a result of the appliance’s expanding abilities.

What should patients avoid when using the Schwartz appliance?

Initially, it is best children eat soft foods for the first week of installing the appliance. Some beneficial and kid-friendly foods include mashed potatoes, rice pudding, and ice-cream. Once the excessive salivating stops, the aches will fade and the child can try eating more solid foods. Still, it is important the patient steers clear of sticky and gummy products, as well as products which require harder bites.

Supplemental Content

When there is a problem with the lower jaw being too small, a Schwarz expander appliance will be the ideal piece of equipment to use. It ensures that there will be enough room for teeth to come through and also makes sure that the dental arch conforms more to the face. The good thing about this device is that it is not easy to see, and it can be removed. It is placed behind the teeth and while not too big, it is likely to take a little time to get used to having it there. As you would expect it may not be that easy to speak and eat for the first few days that it is in place. It is important not to get impatient and just let the settling in period take its course.

The one time there may be some real discomfort is the first time it is altered, but after that should be perfectly fine. If there is discomfort, then it is fine to take general pain killers and there is no need to suspect that strong ones will be required. It is vitally important that the Schwarz expander device is not messed around with. It can come out but should be treated gently. They are delicate pieces of equipment and can be easily damaged meaning that a new one will be needed. This is going to delay the finishing date and could also mean that there is an additional cost.

Adjusting the Schwarz Expander Device

Ones the device is comfortable then it is time to start the adjustment. This can happen by the recommendations of your orthodontist. Activation is really easy to do as it is just a matter of placing the key in a hole on the adjustment wheel. There is an arrow showing which way the key should be turned so mistakes will not happen. Once done, place it back in the child’s mouth and make sure that it is fully in place.

This is the most intricate part of the procedure and when there is no adjustment taking place it is fine for the child to take responsibility when it comes to removing, cleaning and replacing the Schwarz expander device. The child should be shown how to do this and be clearly told that both hands have to be used and it needs to be secure in both sides of the mouth.

If the device starts to move around a replacement will have to be made and this will be expensive. Mealtimes mean it should come out, but there is no reason to remove it during sport – unless there is the risk that it will be permanently lost. When not being used it should be in the protective case. It can be with toothpaste but not using hot water.

Dealing with Problems

If there is pain – stop increasing in size, but do not leave it out altogether. Increase after a few days but if the pain continues you need to make a dental appointment. The same applies to any damage you notice – take it to the dentist and see if it can be fixed.


Two appointments are needed initially:

  • Alginate impressions are taken so that the device can be manufactured – 30 to 60 minutes appointment
  • Placement – Schwarz expander device is fitted and information is given – 30 minutes appointment


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IVANOV Orthodontic Experts
12866 Biscayne Blvd, North Miami, FL 33181

Call us at (786) 540-1919 to schedule a free orthodontic exam.


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