A palatal expander is a device that expands the palate, which is the structure made of bone and cartilage at the roof of the mouth. It is installed because the palate is too narrow to accommodate a child’s teeth. The device takes advantage of the fact that a child’s palate has two halves that don’t fuse until puberty.
When Is it Required?
There are three main reasons why a child may be fitted with a palate expander. They may have a crossbite, which happens when the jaw is so narrow that the upper molars bite inside the lower molars. Normally, they should bite outside. The child’s teeth could also be too crowded. This can happen even with baby teeth. Again, the palate expander gives the teeth room to grow normally. The third reason that the palate expander is used is when the narrow jaw doesn’t even allow the teeth to erupt because other teeth are blocking it.
How the Palate Expander Works
Palatal expanders are tailored for every patient. They come in two pieces that are fitted over the top molars and joined together by an adjustable screw. To work, the screw is turned just a bit every day, which causes the two plates in the palate to gently move farther apart. When the orthodontist is satisfied that the bones are far enough apart, the expander is left in and bone is allowed to grow into the space between the two plates. Most children wear palatal expanders for between three and six months.
It’s important that the child pay attention to their oral hygiene while they wear the palatal expander. As with braces, food can get stuck in the expander. They should brush at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and use a water jet to make sure the wires of the device are clean. There’s also a special cleaner the dental hygienist can give the child to make sure debris is pushed out of the wires. There are also special types of flossing implements.
If Your Child Needs a Palate Expander, Call Us
If your child has a cross-bite, teeth that are too crowded, or can’t erupt properly, they may benefit from a palatal expander. Central Texas Orthodontics is conveniently located in Austin, TX. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!