What Are Palatal Expanders And How Do They Work

Palatal expanders are one of the orthodontic devices used to correct the shape of the jaw and make space for teeth. An orthodontist may suggest palatal expanders to children and adults, who suffer from problems such as crowded teeth, cross bite, open bite, misshaped jaw and other problems.

There are many types of palatal expanders to choose from. Before we discuss about expanders, let us know what are palatal expanders and how they work.

Palatal expanders are appliances that are fixed inside the mouth. They are fixed to the palate and a key is used to adjust the device daily. The palatal expander, slowly expands the bones in the upper jaw and makes room for new teeth. Palatal expanders work best in young children because the bones are still developing and they adjust easily. Some orthodontists may suggest palate expanders even to adults but the treatment takes time and is more painful.

It is important to keep your teeth and gums clean when using an expander. Some important cleaning tips are

  1. Clean your teeth and gums twice a day to prevent build-up of plaque and tooth decay.
  2. The palate expander is fixed inside the mouth with the help of bands. If gums are not cleaned properly, they become puffy and may slow down the movement of teeth.
  3. Not maintaining proper oral hygiene can cause swollen gums, which cause soreness and pain.

How Does the Expander Work?

The palatal expander is custom created to suit the palate size of the patient. Once the expander is inserted inside the mouth, the orthodontist may instruct to adjust the expander at regular intervals. The expander can be adjusted by turning the key of the expander. You have to adjust the expander as per the instructions of your dentist.

The palatal expander works by moving the jaw bone and creating place for the new bone to develop. This may create some pressure on the nose, eyes and ears. You can take mild pain reducing medication as suggested by your doctor.

It is essential to know what are palatal expanders before getting them fixed in your or your child’s mouth. Palate expanders are the most commonly used appliances that push the jaw bone and create space in the mouth.