What is the Palatal Expander & What is It Used For?

Rapid Palatal Expander

What is the Palatal Expander & What is It Used For?

One way to treat or prevent malocclusions (bad bites) is to receive orthodontic treatment at an early age. Starting during childhood can be more effective because treatment will be made during a natural growing period for the child. A palatal expander is the proper orthodontic appliance to for this type of treatment and prevention.

Once the expander is secured in the child’s mouth, it will slowly widen the upper jaw to prevent or treat malocclusions. It is an easy and tolerable process. It is most effective in children due to the gradual fusion of the two halves that make up the upper jaw. This makes the Rapid Palatal Expander more effective. Prior to puberty, the two bones can be slowly separated and stabilized more easily during the treatment.

Is a Rapid Expander Right for You?

Common Situations That Can Benefit from Using a Rapid Palatal Expander

Below are three of the most common problems that a child may face for which our orthodontists will likely recommend this appliance:

Crossbite

  • Upper jaw is too narrow to fit with the lower jaw
  • Back top teeth is inside of the lower teeth
  • Correction: Expanding upper jaw

Crowding

  • Not enough room for permanent teeth
  • Upper jaw is too narrow
  • Correction: Widen upper jaw to create space

Impacted Teeth

  • A tooth has not yet come in and is being blocked by other teeth
  • Improper position of growing teeth, most common with canines or eye teeth (located directly under the eyes)
  • Correction: Widen upper jaw to allow tooth to grow in its proper position

Other Reasons Our Doctors May Choose This Treatment:

  • Aesthetically broaden the smile
  • Limit the number of teeth to create space
  • Improve breathing
  • Shorten overall time your child will need with braces

How the Palatal Expander Works

The expander will be custom-made to fit over most of the top teeth in the back of the mouth. The appliance consists of two halves connected in the middle with a screw. With a special key, turning the screw a very small measure each day will induce tension at the intersection of the two palatal bones.

This tension will progressively move the two bones apart. At the time of the desired expansion, the expander will remain in place for a couple more months to give your bones time to adapt and stabilize the new expansion. This will take on average 3-6 months from start to finish.

Palatal Expanders

What to Expect During Treatment

Expanders have a very limited impact on a child’s daily routine. Below are the most common signs that the expanders are working. The more uncomfortable experiences are only temporary as it is the body getting used to the new treatment. Don’t be alarmed if your child is experiencing the following.

  • Soreness
  • Feeling of pressure
  • Speaking and eating feel a little different at first
  • A small gap between the front teeth

Learn More at Your Local Owl Ortho Office!

Rapid palatal expanders are just one of many effective treatment options available from Owl Orthodontics. If you believe your child may benefit from an expander, braces or other appliance, schedule a free appointment. If you have questions about orthodontic care, call us at 716-832-1550 – our team will be happy to get you the information you need!