A palate or palatal expander is used to widen or expand the upper jaw, as well as being used to address crowding and other orthodontic issues. When worn, it extends and creates more room in the mouth to allow for proper tooth and/or jaw alignment. Expanding the upper jaw can also have a positive effect on the floor of the nasal cavity, helping to increase air flow and making breathing easier, too. So if your orthodontist recommends a palate expander, it can help in a variety of ways.
When is a Palatal Expander Prescribed?
If a palatal expander is prescribed by your orthodontic team, it is because the expander is necessary to correct the bite.
For example, it is used in the case of a posterior crossbite, for which a palate expander is the best treatment option. In general, a palate expander is most successful when treating children and young teens, although at times, adults can also benefit from the use of a palate expander.
The high success rate of palate expanders at a young age, shows just how important it is to visit an orthodontic pro when a child is young.
The expander can help to widen the upper arch so that the upper teeth can align well with the lower teeth, creating a better bite. It can also make more room for teeth that are crowded, preventing the need to extract any permanent teeth. And expanders can also help shape a broader, attractive smile.
Is It Hard to Eat When Wearing an Expander?
Don’t worry about eating – there’s no difficulty while wearing a palate expander. But it is important to avoid hard, crunchy, chewy, or sticky foods, which can cause damage to your expander. This includes items such as gum, caramels, taffy or licorice as well as crunching on hard foods like nuts or popcorn. Cut raw carrots, celery, and apples into bite-size pieces.
Why avoid hard or sticky foods? They can actually break your palate expander.
How Long Do Palate Expanders Stay in Your Mouth?
The usual length of time it takes to expand the palate is just three to six weeks. However, you’ll keep an expander in your mouth for a longer period of time than that, usually for around 12 months. This allows the newly formed, expanded bone to fully mature.
During the time the expander is worn, it does need to be turned. While simple, it needs to be done by the parent or caregiver, not the child. It’s accomplished with the use of a small expander key that fits into the device. It’s not painful, although the patient might feel some pressure against the teeth and roof of the mouth.
Ready to Learn More About Palate Extenders?
If you’d like to know more about palate expander, and how they can help your child’s smile, just reach out to us today. We would be happy to discuss everything from palate expanders to teeth straightening options such as metal braces or the clear Invisalign aligners at Signature Orthodontics!