Quad-Helix Arch Expanders

Now that you have had a quad-helix placed, you may have some questions you would like answered.

What should I expect in the first week?

Almost as soon as the quad-helix is fitted you will notice an increase in the volume of saliva in your mouth. This saliva should be swallowed as normal and not slurped or spat out. This excess saliva will resolve within a few days.

Your lips and cheeks may also feel a bit tender in the areas that press against the quad-helix and again this will also improve within a few days. We will provide you with some wax which you can use if the problem persists. We will show you how to use it.

You may see an imprint of the quad-helix start to appear on your tongue and this is quite common. You should not worry about this as the imprint will go when the quad-helix is removed.

Talking with feel strange to start with and you are encouraged to talk aloud as much as possible when you initially get the quad-helix. This will allow your tongue to adapt to the quad-helix being there and within a week your speech should go back to normal. Perhaps read a book aloud at home!

Your teeth will start to feel tender by about the end of the first day and this is normal. This will pass after a few days. Patients do not usually need to take any painkillers but if you feel that this is necessary for you, the normal painkillers you take for pain control should be used (ensure you follow the instructions on the packet).

You may also feel as though the teeth are a little wobbly. This is quite common and will resolve as treatment progresses.

Do I eat and drink as normal?

It will be a little difficult to eat initially so it is best to start with soft food such as pasta, rice, soft fish or yogurt. As you get more use to the quad-helix you will feel more comfortable eating firmer food. Remember to clean your teeth after each meal and if this is not possible, at least rinse your mouth with water.

Some foods are certain to damage the quad-helix and these should be avoided throughout your treatment. Chewing gum, hard sweets and toffees, whole apples and crusty bread are a few examples. Apples and bread can be chopped into smaller pieces which are less likely to damage your brace.

Your teeth are also more vulnerable to attack from sugars when you wear a quad-helix. For this reason, you should limit your intake of sugary snacks such as sweets, chocolates, cakes and biscuits. Fizzy drinks should be stopped until your brace work is finished and you should be careful with fruit juices and flavoured bottled water which often have hidden sugars. These drinks are fine with your main meals but in between meals, the safest drink is plain water.

How do I clean the around quad-helix?

You should brush your teeth after every meal and if this is not possible, at least rinse your mouth with water.

Twice a day, you should concentrate on the areas between the brace and the gums. This will be in the region of the bands on the molar teeth. We will show you the technique to use. Done properly, you will need to spend about 6 minutes cleaning your teeth in the mornings and 6 minutes just before bed. Do not forget to brush in the roof of your mouth where the quad-helix crosses your palate.

Make sure you are using fluoride toothpaste. A fluoride mouthwash is also beneficial and you will be advised to use this once or twice a day, ideally at a time other than when you brush your teeth.

If you struggle to keep the teeth and quad-helix really clean, we may recommend disclosing tablets. This is a coloured dye in tablet form which is chewed and the colour is quickly taken up by the plaque (colonies of bacteria) on the teeth and quad-helix. This makes it easier to see where you need to concentrate your brushing.

How often will I need to be seen by the orthodontist?

This can range from 6 to 8 weeks. The quad-helix may be removed and tightened at every other visit and therefore the teeth will feel a little tender again for a few days afterwards.

What happens when the quad-helix is removed?

The quad-helix is removed once the desired results have been achieved. The fixed braces will go on some months after you have started your treatment with the quad-helix. The quad-helix is usually removed 6 months after having fixed braces placed.

What do I do if I play sports?

If you take part in contact sports, then a mouthguard is essential. During brace treatment, a mouthguard is moulded around the teeth and the brace. It may have to be replaced more often than normal as the teeth will be moving. You can obtain one at the practice or at sports outlets. A mouthguard is also recommended for cycling and skating.

What about if I play a musical instrument?

Wind instruments can become more challenging to play with a brace. It is best to discuss this with your music teacher as sometimes a change in the mouth piece is necessary.

Should I still see my regular dentist?

Yes. The orthodontist will be addressing the orthodontic issues in your mouth so it is important to see your regular dentist at the normal intervals.

What should I do if something happens to the quad-helix?

If the quad-helix breaks or distorts, or it starts to cause pain, you should contact the practice as soon as is reasonably possible. You should not wait until your next routine appointment. Have a look in I Have A Problem With My Brace where you can find helpful tips on coping with common problems.

To reduce to risk of breakage, you should keep objects such as pens, pencils and fingernails out of the mouth. Also, try to avoid fiddling with the quad-helix.