What is a palatal expander and why does my child need one?

What is a palatal expander and why does my child need one?

Orthodontic issues such as crowding, impacted teeth or a cross bite can be an indication that your child has a narrow palate. To help correct these issues and more, your orthodontist may recommend treatment with a palatal expander. Here's how these helpful orthodontic appliances work.

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. In fact, palatal expanders are so effective that they are among the most commonly prescribed orthodontic appliances for young children.

Admittedly palatal expanders can be somewhat intimidating at first. Many parents initially feel unnerved at the idea of turning a key to widen the expander, but rest assured that there's no need to be worried. Expanders are actually easy to use, and once you've done it a few times you and your child will get used to it.

What do palatal expanders do?

A 'palatal expander’ does exactly that...it gradually expands the child palate (or arch), to help create room for the permanent teeth to grow in correctly without causing crowding problems. Palatal expanders are recommended for children who's jaw growth isn't able to keep up with the growth of their teeth.

How does a palatal expander work?

Your child's orthodontist may recommend fitting either a removable or fixed palatal expander to help treat orthodontic issues. The expander will be attached to your child's upper arch, and either held in place with bands around the teeth, or attached with a plastic material that is bonded over your child's teeth. Once the palatal expander is placed, the orthodontist will provide you with instructions on how often and how much you should turn the key. Each turn will slightly widen your child's arch.

Will a palatal expander hurt my child?

As with 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 or teeth. 

If you'd like to learn more about palatal expanders and how they could help to correct your child's orthodontic issue, contact your Maple Ridge orthodontist today to book a consultation.

Book your first orthodontic consultation today at myOrthodontist Maple Ridge.