A palatal expander is an orthodontic appliances used to widen children's the upper jaws (the maxilla), so that the upper and lower teeth fit together properly.
Palatal expanders are among the more common orthodontic appliances used for young children. They may look a little intimidating at first, and the idea of having to turn the key to widen it can make some people uncomfortable, too, but there is really no need to be worried.
Palatal expanders are easy to use, and after a few tries, you’ll be completely used to it!
What are palatal expanders for?
The name 'palatal expander’ is quite literal; it describes exactly what these orthodontic appliances do. Essentially, they expand the arch (or palate), making room for permanent teeth to grow in as they should, and not become crowded in the mouth.
In some children, the jaw growth doesn't keep up with the growth of the teeth, which is a fairly common issue. In these cases, palatal expanders are typically prescribed.
How does a palatal expander work?
Palatal expanders come in two forms: removable or fixed. The expander is attached to the patient’s upper arch with bands that are placed around the teeth. Or, it is attached with a plastic material is bonded over the teeth.
The expander key is turned at intervals prescribed by your child's orthodontist, so that it widens the arch in tiny increments.
Does Palatal Expansion hurt?
The expander may feel a little uncomfortable at the outset of treatment. Most of the time, though, palatal expansion doesn't cause much discomfort, aside from the pressure on the teeth and the roof of the mouth when the key is initially turned.