Palatal expanders are a great option for children and youth. It helps take advantage of the normal growth that chidlren are going through when they are young, so that when they need orthodontic treatment it will be much easier.

What is a Palatal Expander?

A palatal expander is a custom made device that fits onto the roof of your mouth, helping widen the upper jaw to prevent conditions like crossbites or crowding. Palatal expanders are installed into the roof of your mouth and place gentle pressure so that the teeth widen out.

Palatal expanders are easy to install and do not cause much discomfort or any pain. There is typically less pressure when activating a palatal expander than tightening braces.

Conditions that Palatal Expanders Can Help Correct

Palatal expanders help orthodontists with a number of conditions and aspects of orthodontic treatment. However, these are the most common and well known conditions that a palatal expander can help correct:

Impacted Teeth: When a tooth hasn’t grown in yet, but it is being blocked by the teeth neighboring it, this can cause complications in permanent teeth growing in. A palatal expander can help widen the upper jaw to help make room for the tooth to grow in. Another option that pediatric dentists and orthodontists take is a space maintainer, which is a service we also offer.

Crossbite: When the upper jaw of a child has not grown out, it can have a shape much narrower than the bottom teeth. Due to the discrepancy in width, the upper back teeth may end up biting inside the lower teeth. This can cause problems in development of the jaw and also the straightness of teeth. A palatal expander can help widen out the upper jaw to correct this.

Crowding: Similar to impacted teeth, pediatric dentists and orthodontists can determine if there isn’t enough room for teeth to grow in. In order to look ahead and prevent any crowding, a palatal expander can help widen the jaw and create space to help allow teeth the space they need to grow in.

There’s a number of small subtleties and factors that can create the need for a palatal expander. When deciding if a palatal expander is needed, Dr. Dan will create a dialogue with the family to create the best plan moving forward.

How a Palatal Expander Works

The palatal expander is a little different than that of braces. Where as braces require no maintenance from parents or children on a daily basis, a palatal expander does necessitate some upkeep from parent and child.

Overall, parents will need to activate the palatal expander to help expand the upper jaw. The following steps will walk you through how to activate the palatal expanders.

Step 1: Gather your child and locate the palatal expander in their mouth. Use an external light source to help illuminate the roof of their mouth.

Step 2: You want to locate the expander, which Dr. Dan, will point out to you at the installation of the palatal expander.

Step 3: Place the key provided by Dr. Dan and insert it into the expander.

Step 4: Once the key has been inserted, you will want to turn the key a small amount to expand the palatal expander a small bit. Each palatal expander is custom made, so Dr. Dan will work with you so that you know exactly how much you should be expanding the appliance.

Step 5: After the palatal expander has been expanded, you will then remove the key. It is important when removing the key to make sure you did not jostle or loosen the palatal expander when removing the key.

Overall, the use of palatal expander and the key allows for subtle expansion of the upper jaw and allowing them to widen.

How Long Will My Child Need a Palatal Expander

Palatal expanders are not worn nearly as long as braces. The typical palatal expanders are typically needed from 3 to 6 months. Before the palatal expander is removed, Dr. Dan will want to make sure that the widening of the upper jaw can be maintained and that the spacing will not reverse.

Once the palatal expander has achieved the desired spacing, the device will be removed!

If you are considering visiting an orthodontist or getting braces, feel free to contact us!