All you need to know about Palatal Expanders

All you need to know about Palatal Expanders
Posted on 05/10/2022

During your visit to Choice Orthodontics, you might hear mention of a Palatal Expander, but you may not know exactly what that means. Let’s dig in!

What is a Palatal Expander?

In a nutshell, a palatal expander is a commonly used orthodontic device used to expand the amount of space in one’s mouth. An expander can sometimes alleviate the need for braces but often is the first step before moving on to a braces treatment.

Who benefits from a palatal expander?

Since the upper jaw doesn’t completely fuse until after puberty, young children are the benefactors of treatment by palatal expanders. This is one of the many reasons it’s so important for early orthodontic intervention!

What does a palatal expander fix?

Dental issues that might require an expander are:

- Crossbite

- Crowding

- Impacted Teeth

- Underbite

- Cleft Palate

Because the expander works slowly over time to create space in the mouth, it gives teeth a chance to spread out and preemptively correct issues before the teeth and jaw have fully settled.

They look scary! How does it work?

A palatal expander is created in a custom fit specific to each child. The device consists of two pieces of metal, held together by a spring in the center. Overtime - 3 to 6 months on average - the jaw will expand sufficiently and the expander will be removed. Occasionally, Choice Orthodontics will use an expander that includes a special key the parent uses to turn the expander a bit each day, but it’s more typical for us to monitor the expander progression without the need for that.

What should we expect?

After the expander is installed, things might feel a little odd at first. Your child might develop a small gap (don’t worry - that won’t last forever!), and might struggle a bit with chewing and talking. Like braces, certain foods will need to be avoided, such as bubble gum, and anything hard or sticky. Over-the-counter pain medication can be used for any pain. A friendly reminder to take small bites and chew carefully might be helpful for a bit until your kiddo gets used to their new hardware.

Using a palatal expander lasts just a short time, but will leave your child with a smile they’ll be proud to show off! Your child should see an orthodontic specialist at the first sign of trouble, or at least by 7 years old. If you are in the Northwest Missouri area, contact Choice Orthodontics to start your journey to a picture-perfect smile!