What is a Palatal Expander?

Posted on 08/15/2015 by Dr. Lovrovich
A young girl with braces wearing a palatal expander.

If your child’s molars do not fit together when biting down or there is severe overcrowding in his mouth, a palatal expander might be recommended. This is a permanent appliance that is inserted into the roof of your child’s mouth and is tightened with a key on a regular basis. The appliance is worn for up to 6 months in order to allow the bones time to readjust to the pressure.

Why a Child Needs a Palatal Expander

There are many reasons why we might recommend a palatal expander for your child. A few of the most common reasons include:

  • Overcrowding in the mouth, which leaves little to no room for new permanent teeth to grow in or in situations where permanent teeth have grown in but are not in the appropriate space due to overcrowding.
  • When a crossbite is present, making it difficult for your child to properly bite down on food. A crossbite can also cause premature wear and tear on the teeth that receive the immense pressure in a crossbite.

How it Works

The palatal expander is cemented into your child’s mouth, making it a permanent appliance for the next few months. At the center of the appliance is a screw that can be adjusted with the turn of the key that you are provided. You will be instructed on how much and how often to turn the key in order to facilitate the expansion of your child’s jaw.

A palatal expander is not a rite of passage for children, but it is a probable method of treatment for many that suffer from an overcrowded mouth or crossbite. It is often used in conjunction with braces or as a standalone treatment if the problem is able to be resolved with this appliance.

Please contact us if you have any questions about a palatal expander.

4540 Sand Point Way NE, Suite 140
Seattle WA 98105-3941

Tel: (206) 525-7000
Fax: (206) 525-0479

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