A child's narrow palate can lead to dental issues such as crowding, impacted teeth or a cross bite. To help correct (or prevent) these issues and more, your Langley orthodontist may recommend treatment with a palatal expander. Here's how these common orthodontic appliances work...
Palatal expanders are orthodontic appliances that can be used to help increase the width of your child's upper jaw (the maxilla) to help correct orthodontic issues such as a crossbite, crowded teeth or impacted teeth. These orthodontic appliances are actually so effective that they are among the most commonly prescribed orthodontic treatments for children.
Palatal expanders can be a little intimidating at first. Parents can often feel unnerved at the idea of turning a key to widen the expander but have no fear. Expanders are easy to use, and once you've done it a few times you and your child will get used to it.
What do palatal expanders do?
A 'palatal expander’ does exactly what the name says. These orthodontic appliances gradually expand the child's palate (or arch), to help create room for the adult teeth to grow in correctly without causing crowding issues. Expanders are recommended for children whose jaw growth just isn't able to keep up with the space needed for the incoming permanent teeth.
How do palatal expanders work?
First, your child will be fitted with either a removable or fixed palatal expander to help treat their orthodontic issues. The expander will be attached to your child's upper arch, and either held in place with bands around the teeth or attached with a plastic material that is bonded over your child's teeth. After the expander has been fitted in place, your child's orthodontist will provide you with instructions on how often and how much you should turn the key. Each turn of the key will slightly widen your child's dental arch.
Will using a palatal expander hurt my child?
Most orthodontic devices cause some discomfort. You should expect it to take a few days your child to adjust to their expander, and during that time they may experience some mild discomfort. However, any slight discomfort they experience should fade quickly. Most kids report that they only feel occasional discomfort or a feeling of pressure on their teeth or the roof of their mouth.