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Palatal Expander

Posted in What You Need to Know About Braces
Palatal Expander

What is a Palatal Expander? 

A palatal expander is an orthodontic appliance used to create more space in the mouth by gradually widening the upper jaw. It is most commonly used in children, however many adults find success with them as well. 

What are Palatal Expanders used for? 

Most commonly palatal expanders are used to treat crossbite, crowding and impacted teeth. 

  • Crossbite – When the top back teeth bite inside of the lower teeth. This is due to the upper jaw being too narrow to fit correctly
  • Crowding – When there is not enough space to accommodate permanent teeth. This can be detected prior to permanent teeth coming in. 
  • Impacted Teeth – When a tooth can not erupt because other teeth are in the way. This is most common with canine teeth. 

There are other benefits associated with expanding the upper jaw such as achieving a more aesthetically pleasing smile, limiting the number of extractions needed to create space and improved breathing.

How do Palatal Expanders work? 

  • Each expander is custom made to fit over multiple top teeth in the back of the mouth.
  • The expander consists of two halves being connected in the middle with a screw.
  • A special key is used to turn the screw a very small amount each day. 

By turning the key, tension is placed on each half of the expander which gently pushes the two palatal bones apart. New bone will then form in the created space and stabilize the expansion. Overall, expanders are normally worn for 3-6 months but could be longer for some patients. 

What to Expect 

  • It is normal to feel pressure and some soreness after the key is turned, but this only lasts a few minutes and is less uncomfortable than having braces adjusted. 
  • Speaking and eating may feel different while your tongue is adjusting to having a new appliance.
  • It is normal for a gap to develop between the front teeth, this is a sign the expander is working to create extra space.

Once treatment is complete, you will have teeth that are beautifully aligned! 

Contact Leiss & Hendrix Orthodontics to answer your questions and schedule your complimentary consultation.