One of the benefits of pediatric orthodontic treatments is that they can often work with a child’s naturally occurring growth process to proactively treat a dental issue like a malocclusion (bad bite) before it turns into something that requires more involved corrective orthodontic treatment later. A palatal expander is a great example of one of those treatments.
A palatal expander is a custom-made, non-invasive orthodontic appliance designed to create more space in a child’s mouth by gently guiding the expansion of the upper jaw. It is a fixed appliance, bonded to the molars with stainless steel rings. Palatal expanders are primarily recommended for children with narrow palates and tend to be more successful for children under 16 whose bones are still developing. Your orthodontist might recommend a palatal expander if your child is exhibiting:
- Crossbite: When a child’s upper jaw is more narrow than the bottom jaw, the alignment of the teeth is affected, resulting in the top, rear teeth resting on the inside of the bottom teeth rather than the outside.
- Crowding: Our highly trained doctor’s can tell before adult teeth begin coming in if there will be enough space to accommodate them. If not, widening the upper jaw will help avoid extractions or misaligned teeth later on.
- Impacted Teeth: When unerupted adult teeth are already being blocked by baby teeth, expanding the upper jaw can create the needed space for the teeth to come into proper position on their own.
How palatal expanders work
Generally, a palatal expander can be securely fit in one visit, and is worn from several weeks to several months and then removed Once the expander is set, your child will adjust it every day at home using a special key to turn a small screw on the appliance. Your orthodontist will provide a carefully planned schedule for each adjustment, including instructions on how many turns and how often to make them.
While these adjustments are minute, they gradually expand the two sides of the palate and increase the width of the jaw. Once the desired expansion has been achieved, the device is left in for additional time to allow for new bone fill in the gap created and for the expansion to stabilize.
Palate expanders are a safe and effective way to address potential dental issues before they happen and help your child develop a healthy, beautiful smile. If you’d like to learn more or schedule a consultation, please contact us at our pediatric dental office. We proudly serve Norwood, Walpole, and surrounding areas.