What Is a Palate Expander and When Is It Used?

When it comes to orthodontic treatments, one tool that is commonly used is a palate expander. Palate expanders are dental appliances specifically designed to widen the upper jaw or palate. This treatment is often recommended for people with narrow arches or crowded teeth.

Understanding what a palate expander is and when it is used can provide patients with valuable insight into this orthodontic option.

What Is a Palate Expander?

A palate expander is a custom-made appliance designed to be attached to the upper molars in the mouth. It consists of a metal framework with a keyhole in the center and screw-like devices on each side. Some palatal expanders are removable, but most are fixed [1].

The appliance will gradually widen the palate over a period of time. By turning the screw like devices using a special key, the appliance applies gentle pressure, expanding the bone and cartilage in the mid-palatal suture, which is the junction where the two halves of the upper jaw meet.

When a Palate Expander Is Used

A palate expander is used in orthodontic treatment to correct issues such as:

  • Crossbites. A crossbite occurs when the upper teeth fit inside the lower teeth when biting down and can lead to jaw pain as well as aesthetic concerns. A palate expander can help widen the upper jaw and create enough space for the upper teeth to fit correctly over the lower teeth [2].
  • Crowded teeth. Narrow dental arches can result in crowded teeth, meaning there is not enough space for all the teeth to erupt properly. A palate expander expands the upper jaw to create enough room for the teeth to align properly [3].
  • Breathing difficulties. In some cases, a narrow palate can contribute to breathing difficulties. By widening the upper jaw and creating more space in the nasal cavity, a palate expander can help alleviate these breathing issues and improve overall respiratory function.

Palate expanders are most commonly used during childhood or adolescence when the jaw is still growing and the bones are more flexible. However, in some cases, palate expanders can also be used for adults to improve their smile and their quality of life.

Treatment time can vary, with most patients needing to wear the device for several months to a year with periodic adjustments to ensure the proper expansion for treatment. Patients may also need a retention device to maintain their results after the initial treatment with the expander.

Do You Need a Palate Expander?

If you or your child has been told you need a palate expander, know that this device can make orthodontic treatment easier and help create a more balanced, pain-free smile. Ask your orthodontist about your palate expander treatment and how it can help you achieve a beautiful smile!

Sources:
1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/23502-palate-expander
2. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resourceseducation/700childrens/2023/06/palate-expanders
3. https://aaoinfo.org/whats-trending/palatal-expander/

Summary
What Is a Palate Expander and When Is It Used?
Article Name
What Is a Palate Expander and When Is It Used?
Description
When it comes to orthodontic treatments, one tool that is commonly used is a palate expander. Understanding what a palate expander is and when it is used can provide patients with valuable insight into this orthodontic option.
Author
First Impression Orthodontics