If your child has a narrow palate and is experiencing orthodontic issues such as crowding, impacted teeth or a cross bite your dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment with a palatal expander. In today's blog our Vancouver orthodontists explain what a palatal expander is and how it works.
Palatal expanders are orthodontic appliances used to help increase the width of a child's upper jaw (the maxilla) in order to help correct orthodontic issues such as a cross bite, crowded teeth or impacted teeth. Palatal expanders are so effective that they are among the most commonly prescribed orthodontic appliances for young children.
Parents and patients often find palatal expanders intimidating at first, and parents can feel a little unnerved at the idea of having to turn the key to widen the expander, but rest assured that there's no need to be concerned. Expanders are actually simple to use, and once you've done it a few times you will get used to it.
What do palatal expanders do?
The function is in the name, 'palatal expander’ is literal: these orthodontic appliances expand your child's palate (or arch), to create room for permanent teeth to grow in correctly without causing crowding issues. These orthodontic devices are used when a child's jaw growth isn't able to keep up with the growth of their teeth. (This issue is relatively common in children).
How does a palatal expander work?
You child may be fitted with either a removable or fixed palatal expander. The expander will be attached to the patient’s upper arch with bands that are placed around the teeth to hold the expander in place, or it can be attached with a plastic material that is bonded over your child's teeth. Your child's orthodontist will prescribe how often and how much you should turn the key. Each turn slightly widens your child's arch in small increments.
Does palatal expansion hurt?
Like all orthodontic devices, your child may take a few days to adjust to their expander, and during that time they may experience some mild discomfort. That said, any discomfort they experience should fade quickly. Most children report that they only feel occasional discomfort or a feeling of pressure on the roof of their mouth and teeth.