When orthodontic treatments begin in childhood, certain techniques can be used to take advantage of the growth process to prevent common dental problems. Sometimes, a palatal expander is needed if there isn’t enough space in the child’s mouth for the permanent teeth to grow in. When space is limited, it often causes crowding, misalignment, and bite issues. These issues are easily preventable by working with an experienced orthodontist for early interceptive treatments.
What is a Palatal Expander?
This appliance is placed on the roof of the mouth. Gradually, the upper jaw is widened as the palatal expander works over time. Even though it sounds like a scary treatment, it’s an easy solution to prevent issues like crossbites and overcrowding.
This appliance works because the upper jaw has two separate halves that can be adjusted early in life. These halves fuse after puberty, which is why it is important to seek orthodontic care early in life. As the palatal expander gently moves the bones apart, the separation can be stabilized, and then the bone naturally grows in the right position.
Each expander is custom-designed to fit the size and shape of the patient’s mouth. It fits over several molars on the top jaw. Two halves of the appliance are connected with a screw in the middle. Each day, a special key is used to turn the key slightly, which increases the tension and keeps the palatal bones moving apart.
When the desired expansion is reached, then the palatal expander is left in place for several months, so that bone growth fills in the gap. Most people wear these expanders between three and six months total.
Functional and Aesthetic Benefits
Expanding the upper jaw not only offers functional benefits, but it can also help to improve aesthetics by creating a broader smile. Additionally, the number of teeth that need to be extracted can be reduced since there is enough room for the teeth that need to grow. Creating space on a wider jaw is an effective way to shorten the length of time a patient needs to wear braces. Sometimes, palatal expanders are used to improve breathing.
Our team at Advanced Orthodontics is here to help you create a healthy, beautiful smile. If you need to use a dental appliance, such as a palatal expander, we’re happy to answer your questions at any time. Contact us today to learn more about the available services in our office.
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