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Palate Expanders

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.
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. 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.

Before

KS Crossbite Pretx

After

KS Crossbite Pretx Teeth
palate expander surgery

Does my Child Need a Palate Expander?

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 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. 

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 palate expander will not work anymore.

Palate Expanders Process
Surgery palate expander

How Long Does a Palate Expander Stay in the Mouth?

The usual time for an orthodontic palate expander 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 expander in for an additional 8 weeks to allow for the upper jaw to stabilize. Early removal of the expander can cause 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.
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Office Locations

Consultations are available at our three conveniently located orthodontic offices.

Massillon

3235 Wales Ave NW
Massillon, Ohio 44646
(330) 833-3335

Uniontown

3451 Edison St NW
Uniontown, Ohio 44685
(330) 699-6369

North Canton

6304 A Market Ave
North Canton, Ohio 44721
(234) 714-8100