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What is a palate expander?

Sep 11, 2023Oral health, Orthodontics

What is a palate expander?

An orthodontic device, known as a palate expander, is used to correct the discrepancy between the width of the upper and lower jaws. Primarily, the palate expander is employed to widen the upper teeth.

When an orthodontist detects a width issue with the upper jaw (maxillary bone), such as a posterior crossbite or severe crowding, they may suggest the use of palate expanders. Crossbites can cause long-term issues, so it is important that they are corrected as soon as possible.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics, has found that posterior crossbites are present in 7.7% of cases involving a mix of baby teeth and permanent teeth. Moreover, it has been noted that these types of crossbites become even more prevalent as individual ages.

A removable palate expander, which is comprised of chrome as opposed to acrylic, has a similar appearance to a retainer. An orthodontist may suggest a removable palate expander for those with narrow palates who require slight widening of the jaw.

Palatal expanders are most often utilized in pediatric patients who have not yet reached full growth maturity. However, they may be considered for adult patients in certain circumstances.


What are the advantages of a palate expander?

In certain scenarios, utilizing an orthodontic expander can provide numerous advantages, such as:

  • Orthodontic treatments can correct misalignment and crowded teeth.
  • In children, using a palate expander can help reduce the need for oral surgery later in life.
  • This product is compatible with other orthodontic appliances, such as braces and headgear.


How Long Does a Palatal Expander Stay In?

It typically takes a few weeks for orthodontic expansion to reach the desired amount. Once this is achieved, patients are usually advised to wear their expanders for an additional 6 months in order for new bone to form and stabilize the maxillary expansion.


Does a Palatal Expander Hurt?

Palatal expansion typically does not cause pain. However, it is normal to experience some soreness and pressure once the key has been turned, particularly during the first few days of orthodontic treatment. It is recommended that your child consume liquid foods (e.g. smoothies, soup) for a day and then transition to soft foods over the course of several days up to a week in order to reduce any mild discomfort experienced.


Is it difficult to chew and swallow food with a palatal expander?

Palate Expanders may feel uncomfortable at first, similar to the sensations caused by braces. It may take a few days to adjust to these new feelings while speaking, chewing, and swallowing.

It is possible that you may notice your tongue pressing against the expander. Additionally, you may experience a feeling of limited space or fullness on the roof of your mouth for a period of one to two days, which is normal.

It is recommended that it will take approximately one week to become accustomed to your expander. During this period, it may be helpful to consume soft and easy-to-swallow foods that require minimal chewing.

Healthy options for breakfast include smoothies, scrambled eggs, tofu, and yogurt. To preserve oral health, it is advised to avoid chewing gum, hard candies, and foods that are sticky or chewy, such as steak, taffy, or apples.

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