Palatal Expander

palatal expander modelWhat is a Palatal Expander?

A palatal expander is an orthodontic appliance that widens your upper jaw by applying gentle pressure to your upper teeth when the appliance is activated.

Who Needs a Palatal Expander? 

People with the conditions listed below may benefit from a palatal expander.  Dr. Jones with examine you to determine if you will benefit from a palatal expander.   

                     *  Crowding 

                     *  Crossbite (Top teeth on inside of bottom teeth)

                     *  Shifting of lower jaw to one side to close teeth together

                     *  Underbite

                     *  History of thumb sucking or finger habit

                     *  Mouth breathing 

                     *  Sleep disordered breathing / Snoring

                     * Narrow smile  

Benefits of Palatal Expansion

Generates space:  Palatal expanders make room for crowded teeth and help to prevent or alleviate impactions (teeth stuck under the gums).  

Creates a wider smile:  Broad smiles are beautiful!

Corrects crossbites:  Crossbites, if left untreated, may lead to trauma of teeth, wear on teeth, bruxing, periodontal problems, and TMJ pain.  It's amazing that the expander can solve or prevent the problems that may develop from a crossbite! 

Improves Breathing:  The expander not only expands the palate, but also the nasal airway.  Many patients report that is easier to breathe through their noses after expansion.  Expansion also reduces the risk for sleep apnea in children.

Corrects jaw asymmetry:   When a person's upper jaw is narrow, then their upper teeth will cause interferences with their lower teeth.  A person will then subconsciously pick a side to shift their lower jaw to.  If left untreated, this jaw shift can develop into a permanent asymmetry of the lower jaw.  Thankfully, the palatal expander widens the upper jaw and removes the interference from the teeth, then the lower jaw will develop normally.  

Wearing a Palatal Expander

  • To activate the palatal expander: you will use a key to turn the mechanism in the center of appliance.  

  • It is normal to feel some tightness or mild discomfort after activating the appliance.  If necessary, take Advil or Tylenol as directed. 

  • A gap will open between the upper front teeth.  This is awesome because it means the appliance is doing its job, so embrace your space!   When you stop turning the appliance, your gap will close naturally over the next few weeks. 

  • It is important to keep the appliance clean with good brushing.  Patients find water flossers extremely helpful!  

  • After palatal expansion has been achieved, your expander will need to stay in place for at least 6 months for stability.  

Step 1

Step 1

In a well-lit area, tip the patient's head back.

Step 2

Step 2

Place the key in the hole until it is firmly in place.

Step 3

Step 3

Push the key toward the back of the mouth. You will notice the fender will rotate and the new hole will appear. The rotation stops when the key meets the back of the expander.

Step 4

Step 4

Press back and down toward the tongue to remove the key. The next hole for insertion of the key should now be visible.

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