Palate Expanders For Kids & Adults

An orthodontic palate expander is an appliance used to correct a maxillary (upper jaw) discrepancy. Usually, orthodontic treatment is used when the upper jaw is too narrow

Palate Expanders

What is a Palate Expander? 

An orthodontic palate expander is an appliance used to correct a maxillary (upper jaw) discrepancy. Usually it is used when the upper jaw is too narrow. At the initial evaluation for a child, our orthodontists will measure and examine the upper jaw width.

If a posterior crossbite (see below) or severe crowding exists, our orthodontists will prescribe a palate expander to expand the palatal bones. In some cases, an interdisciplinary treatment approach may be recommended to address specific concerns effectively. When a crossbite is present, it is essential that treatment begin soon in order to prevent jaw asymmetry as the child grows. Palate expanders are recommended in younger children that either haven’t, or just started, their pubertal growth spurt. Widening the upper jaw won’t work in adults, at least not without surgical intervention.

Result Of Palatal Expansion

Widening the upper jaw won’t work in adults, at least not without surgical intervention.


KS Crossbite Pretx


KS Crossbite Pretx Teeth
palate expander surgery

Reasons To Get Palate Expanders For Kids

There are many potential reasons we may prescribe a palate expander. Here is a list of the potential reasons:

  • Posterior Crossbite
  • Anterior Crossbite
  • Underbite
  • Severe dental/tooth crowding
  • Lower jaw asymmetry
  • Narrow upper jaw
  • Sleep Disordered Breathing

One of the most common reasons for an orthodontic palate expander is the presence of a crossbite.  A crossbite is where one or more of the upper teeth are inside the lower teeth.  Sometimes a crossbite is commonly referred to as a ‘scissor bite.’  Crossbites can lead to future problems such as jaw pain, facial asymmetry, and excessive tooth wear. 

Palate expanders for kids can sometimes be used to decrease the severity of dental crowding in a growing child. However, expanders will not be able to fully correct crowding.  Any decrease in crowding observed from an expander is an ancillary benefit. 


Removable Palate Expander

We recommend a removable palatal expander for mild cases if you only need to widen the jaw slightly. It looks similar to a dental retainer, but it is made of chrome instead of acrylic.

Rapid Palate Expander

A rapid palate expander is designed to fit the proof of your mouth, which is fixed to your upper posterior teeth. There’s a tiny screw in the middle that you turn a little daily with a special key. This palate expander can widen your jaw by about 0.5-1mm daily. Generally, it will take 3 to 6 months to achieve desired results.

Surgically Assisted Rapid Palate Expander (SARPE)

We recommend SARPE for moderate to severe cases or for people who have undergone puberty and fully developed facial bones. An oral surgeon places this type of Palate Expander into your mid-palatal suture (the line where the left and right sites meet). Like a rapid palatal expander, it relies on the back of the upper teeth and can be worked on slowly each day to achieve the desired results.

Implant-Supported Palate Expander

We recommend an Implant-Supported Palate Expander for teens and adults. It applies force to four mini dental implants rather than your teeth (you can feel pressure directly to your upper jaw). With this type of palate expander, we will work closely with our oral surgeon, who places the dental implants.

is palatal expansion necessary


In fact, there are ways to widen the upper arch without any types of Palatal Expanders, but often they are recommended to be the most optimized solution.

In case the upper posterior teeth are stabbed inward, the arch wire in the brackets can be used to pull them out. This will make the upper jaw wider without the need for a palatal expander. However, for severe cases that need to widen the upper arch, using Palatal Expanders is highly recommended, especially for children aged 5-15 years.

Some children’s jaws are not large enough to accommodate adult teeth, leading to misaligned teeth. With Palatal Expanders, they create space for teeth to grow without the need for tooth extraction.

Overall, we can expand the shape of the upper arch using braces and Invisalign, but we cannot make the upper jaw (the maxilla) and the two sides wider without using types of Palatal Expander

How does a Palate Expander Work?

A palate expander works by applying a force to the maxillary (upper jaw) bones. In a growing child, the upper jaw is made of two parts that can be manipulated with properly designed forces.
The two parts of the maxillary bones are loosely connected by the intermaxillary suture. As the child ages the suture hardens until it eventually disappears completely as an adult. When this happens, the upper jaw effectively becomes a single unit, and a simple palatal expander will not work anymore.

how do palate expanders work
Surgery palate expander

How Long Does a Palate Expander Stay in the Mouth?

The usual time for orthodontic palatal expanders is 6-8 months. The doctors will prescribe how often to turn the appliance–generally one time every 4 days (or twice a week). Some doctors like to use a rapid expansion (turning daily) but we prefer a slower, consistent pace that reduces patient discomfort. We monitor the patient throughout this process, and we have the parent/guardian turn the appliance at a prescribed interval to maintain consistent progress. After the proper amount of expansion has been achieved, we will leave the jaw expanders in for an additional 8 weeks to allow for the upper jaw to stabilize. Early removal of the palatal expanders can cause an immediate relapse, and then the expander has to be replaced and started again. We will remove the palate expander and replace it with a smaller and more comfortable retainer appliance.


How painful are palate expanders?

They are not very painful. But, your kid will feel some discomfort at first because of their heavy nature.

What is the best age to get a palate expander?

It’s best to get palate expanders when your kid is 7-8 years old. Since the palate is growing rapidly at this age, the expanders are more effective. But, you can also use them on children in their early teens.

Do you need braces after a palate expander?

It’s not absolutely necessary to get braces after a palate expander. But, in most cases, people do get braces after palate expanders.

If you have a palate expander, what can't you eat?

Don’t eat hard and chewy foods after you get palate expanders. Cut fruits into small pieces before eating them.

Do orthodontists reuse expanders?

No, palate expanders cannot be reused. Everybody needs custom palate expanders.

Can you talk normally with a palate expander?

You can talk normally with a palate expander. But, your voice may sound different for the first few days after applying the palate expander.


Schedule a Visit

To set up a visit with our orthodontists, complete and submit this form. Our scheduling coordinator will then contact you to confirm your consultation.

Please note this form is for requesting an appointment. If you need to cancel or reschedule an existing appointment, or if you require immediate attention, please contact our practice directly by calling us.

Office Locations

Consultations are available at our three conveniently located orthodontic offices.


3235 Wales Ave NW
Massillon, Ohio 44646
(330) 833-3335
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3451 Edison St NW
Uniontown, Ohio 44685
(330) 699-6369

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North Canton

6304A Market Ave. N.
Canton, OH 44721
(234) 714-8100
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