What is a Palatal Expander?

What is a Palatal Expander? - Daher Orthostyle - Downtown Vancouver Orthodontist

Here at Daher Orthostyle West Vancouver, we have experience in all types of orthodontic procedures and treatments. Although braces and Invisalign may be the first to spring to your mind, there are plenty of other ways to improve a smile. One of these is using a palatal expander. Now because the roof of our mouths usually fuses between the ages of 14 and 16, this procedure is generally focused on the period of development before that fusion happens.

Why use a palatal expander and how does it work?

Essentially, this device is used to widen the upper jaw so that the bottom and upper teeth will fit together better. This is used to eliminate posterior crossbites, reduce crowding, and broaden the overall width of an arch. Often this procedure is followed by braces so that teeth will fit properly into the newly expanded jaw. An expander is attached to the upper arch by bands placed around the teeth or plastic bonded over the teeth. Although there are removable expanders, many parents prefer their children be fitted with fixed ones so that they won’t be lost or forgotten.

How does it feel?

Just like any other orthodontic equipment, there may be initial discomfort because the expander is a foreign object. Once your child’s mouth begins to adjust, the process is relatively painless. Patients report that they feel pressure on the teeth, in the roof of the mouth, behind the nose, and even between the eyes as their expander is activated. But luckily this pressure fades within minutes. The most noticeable effect is that the palatal expander will likely affect your child’s speech for the first few days.

How do I know if it’s working?

The most visible signs that the expander is achieving it’s goal is the appearance of a space between their two front teeth. The space is created as the expander pushes the two halves of the palate in opposite directions. Once you have reached the desired width and stopped activating the expander, it is normal for the space to close spontaneously. This occurs as the elastic fibers in the surrounding gum tissues return to their original positions. The underlying bone will remain expanded.

Palatal expanders are a great way to set your child up for a happy, healthy smile. This procedure could save a lot of pain and money in the long run if they appear to be having bite issues. If you have any questions about whether or not palatal expansion may be an option for your child, give us a call today!

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