How to Turn a Palate Expander with a Key

How to Turn a Palate Expander with a Key


A palate expander is an orthodontic appliance that is used to widen the upper jaw to make more room for the teeth. Some palate expanders require at-home manipulation of the appliance on a regular basis to achieve the desired results. The process involves turning a wheel on the appliance with a tool called a key. 

How do you turn a palate expander with a key? Here are step by step instructions to ensure you are successfully turning your appliance according to your orthodontist’s directions. 

Instructions for Turning a Palate Expander

  1. Insert the key into the hole in the palate expander’s wheel as far as it will go. It has a bend in the key that will stop it from going too far. 
  2. Turn the key toward the back of the mouth (toward the throat), stopping when you see the next hole become visible. Remove the key from the hole. 
  3. Insert the key into the next hole in the front of the wheel to ensure you have turned it one full turn. 
  4. If your instructions were to turn it just once, remove the key. If you were instructed to turn it additional times, repeat the process the specified number of times. 

 Always turn toward the back of the mouth and remove the key with each turn. If you turn back toward the front of the mouth, you will undo the progress you just made. 

Does Turning the Wheel Hurt?

When you turn the wheel of your palate expander, you won’t feel any pain. But your appliance may feel tighter because turning the wheel applies pressure in order to widen your jaw. As your jaw widens and gets used to the new position, it won’t feel as tight until the next time you turn the wheel with your key. 

A Space Has Developed Between the Front Teeth, is This Normal?

It is normal for a space to develop between the front teeth when a palate expander is in use. This will eventually close back up as the teeth shift within their new space. Keep turning the key according to the schedule your orthodontist provided. 

Are There Food Limitations With a Palate Expander?

You should avoid the foods that need to be avoided with braces. This includes hard, sticky, and chewy foods. Avoid popcorn as the kernels tend to get stuck in your appliance and can cause pain. Sticky foods can even cause your palate expander to slip out of place, resulting in loss of progress. 

How Do I Clean My Palate Expander?

Be sure to brush carefully around your appliance when you brush your teeth. You can swish with water to dislodge pieces of food that get stuck around it as well. A water flosser is an excellent tool for cleaning around your palate expander. If you don’t clean it well it can cause an infection in your mouth. 

What is the Ideal Age for Palate Expansion?

A palate expander is used in phase one of orthodontics before braces.Children as young as 7 years old and up to the age of 11 or 12 can benefit from a palate expander because they are still growing and the jaw is more malleable. 

Signature Orthodontics Provides Palate Expanders

Palate expanders are a useful orthodontic tool to make more room in the mouth when the teeth are crowded or in crossbite. It can also expand the floor of the nasal cavity, promoting better breathing. Signature Orthodontics provides palate expanders and other orthodontic appliances for patients who need the shape of their jaw to be modified. 

Call 651-426-9986 today to schedule or request an appointment.