What Is A Palatal Expander And Why Use It?

One of the most used orthodontic appliance used in young patients is the palatal expander. At first sight, this appliance may look intimidating to our young patients and the thought of having to “turn” each day frightens many parents as well.

So… What can you expect while your child has an expander in their mouth?

Arch expansion is one of the more common ways to negate crowding and crossbites in our young and growing patients. Successful widening of the upper arch requires that the midpalatal suture at the roof of the mouth is not fused together. So in this sense, we are using our young patient’s growth to our advantage, as time is on our side.

The expander is attached to the upper arch by bands placed around the first permanent molars with dental cement, so this is not something that can be taken out by our patients. Although there are removable expanders, Dr. Varghese prefers a fixed expander, as the appliance will not be lost or forgotten.

While there will be some discomfort at the very beginning when an expander is initially placed, our patients report a few day adjustment period before they are more comfortable with their daily activities. During daily turning (usually 21 turns for 21 days), our young patients’ may feel a small amount of pressure on the teeth, in the roof of their mouth, behind the nose and sometime between the eyes as their expander is being activated by the person turning it. We assure you that this pressure fades within minutes!

Besides the pressure, your little patient may be speaking a little differently too for the first few days. We recommend reading a book aloud while at home. One of the most visible signs the expander is working, it the space it will make between the two front teeth, so do NOT worry! This is completely normal and expected 🙂

Due to the possibility of relapse, which is the movement back towards the original position, Dr. Varghese will keep the expander in place for the remaining length of treatment time so the midpalatal sutures fuse together, otherwise the possibility of relapse will be pretty high.

Please call our office to meet Dr. Varghese and our team to learn more about the advantages of a Phase I treatment with palatal expanders.

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