Book Online

Palatal Expanders Explained: Achieving a Healthier Bite and Beautiful Smile

Posted .

What is a palatal expander and how can it improve someone’s oral function? This orthodontic device is specifically designed to widen the upper jaw (palate) to improve dental alignment and overall oral health. This special oral appliance is most often used to help children and adolescents whose bones are still developing and more responsive to expansion. However, some adults may also benefit from its use under certain conditions. Let’s explore what a palatal expander is, how it works and what benefits it offers.

What is the Purpose of a Palatal Expander?

A palatal expander is a custom-made appliance that sits nestled in the roof of the mouth. It is typically made of metal, and sometimes plastic, and is attached to the upper molars using dental cement. The primary purpose of the expander is to gradually widen the upper jaw to create more space in the mouth, ensuring that the teeth fit together properly.

How Does a Palatal Expander Function?

The expander has a central screw that the patient or caregiver adjusts regularly, usually once or twice a day. By turning the screw, the two halves of the upper jaw are slowly pushed apart. This process takes advantage of the natural elasticity of the bones in the palate, which can adapt and grow to accommodate the new space. Over time, the gap created by the expander fills in with new bone, permanently widening the upper jaw.

The Procedure for Utilizing a Palatal Expander

  1. First Appointment: One of our orthodontists, Dr. Jeff, Dr. Soo and Dr. Betina will evaluate the patient’s need for a palatal expander through a series of exams, including X-rays and impressions of the mouth.
  2. Custom Fitting: Once deemed necessary, our orthodontist customizes the expander to fit the patient’s mouth perfectly.
  3. Adjustment Phase: The patient or caregiver adjusts the expander daily by turning the screw with a special key. This stage usually takes several weeks based on the required extent of expansion. The expander stays in at least 6 months after the turns have been completed to help stabilize the expansion.
  4. Retention Phase: After the desired expansion is achieved, the expander remains in use for a few months to allow the new bone to form and stabilize.

Benefits of a Palatal Expander

  1. Improved Bite: A properly expanded palate can correct crossbites, underbites and crowding of teeth, leading to a more harmonious bite.
  2. Enhanced Smile: By creating more space for teeth to align correctly, a palatal expander can significantly improve the appearance of the smile.
  3. Better Oral Health: Correcting dental misalignments lessens the possibility of incurring tooth decay and gum disease, not to mention that well-aligned teeth are much easier to thoroughly clean and maintain.
  4. Facilitates Other Orthodontic Treatments: A wider upper jaw can make other orthodontic treatments, such as braces, more effective and faster.

A Valuable Orthodontic Tool

A palatal expander is a valuable orthodontic tool that helps correct dental issues by widening the upper jaw. This simple yet effective device can significantly enhance a patient’s bite and smile, contributing to better oral health overall. By addressing alignment issues early, especially in children and adolescents, a palatal expander paves the way for a lifetime of healthy, beautiful smiles. If you or your child might benefit from a palatal expander, we invite you to consult with one of our orthodontists, Dr. Jeff, Dr. Soo and Dr. Betina to explore this transformative treatment option.

We Are the Orthodontist Near You

Are you looking for orthodontic help with your smile? Shirck Orthodontics invites you to schedule an evaluation with our expert orthodontists, Dr. Jeff, Dr. Soo and Dr. Betina. They are highly qualified to help you and your family with all your orthodontic needs. We also have convenient locations near you in Powell, Newark, Westerville, or New Albany and Pataskala, Ohio. We welcome you to contact us today!