A palatal expander is an orthodontic appliance used to widen the upper jaw (the maxilla) in children, so that the upper teeth fit together with the bottom ones properly.
Palatal expanders are among the most commonly prescribed orthodontic appliances for young children. Patients sometimes find them a little intimidating in appearance at first, and the idea of having to turn the key to widen it can be a little unnerving, too.
But there's no need to be concerned. Palatal expanders are really easy use, and after a few tries, you’ll be completely used to it!
What are palatal expanders for?
The name 'palatal expander’ is literal: these orthodontic appliances expand the palate (or arch), in order to create room for permanent teeth to grow in as they should, and not become crowded in the mouth.
Palatal expanders are used in children whose jaw growth is not keeping up with the growth of their teeth — a fairly common issue.
How does a palatal expander work?
Palatal expanders can either be removable or fixed. The expander is attached to the patient’s upper arch with bands that are placed around the teeth. Or, they are attached with a plastic material that is bonded over the teeth.
The key in the expander needs to be turned at intervals,so that it widens the arch in small increments. The intervals at which the key should be turned will be prescribed by your orthodontist.
Does Palatal Expansion hurt?
The expander will feel a little uncomfortable at first, but this will fade in short order. Most of the time there is only the occasional feeling of pressure on the teeth and the roof of the mouth.