A palatal expander is an orthodontic device used to enlarge the palate. It is used to treat crossbites, crowding and other dental problems caused by an abnormally narrow palate. The device puts gentle pressure on the upper molars until the desired expansion is accomplished.
How Does It Work?
The maxilla, which consists of the upper jaw and palate, includes two bones that don’t completely fuse until the patient is in their teens. The bones fuse in an area called the midline suture that is located in the middle of the palate. Increasing the distance between the two bones makes the palate bigger and provides more room for the adult teeth. It also causes the body to produce new bone at the midline suture, and those deposits maintain the increased size of the palate.
The palatal expander is a metal, custom-made appliance. It has two halves attached to each other by a screw device. The expander has brackets that are placed over teeth on either side of the patient’s mouth. The expander also comes with a special key that can be inserted into the screw device. Every day, the patient or their parent turns the screw a tiny amount to gradually widen the palate.
The patient will wear the palatal expander until their palate has reached and stabilized at the desired size. Most patients will wear a palatal expander for three to six months. Palatal expanders are typically used on children between five and sixteen years old. They are mainly only effective on patients whose maxilla bones have not yet completely fused.
Types of Palatal Expanders
There are various types of palatal expanders; however, they all have the same end goal in mind. The palatal expander used will depend on the size of the palate among other factors. Certain expanders work best for patients who only need to have their palates widened a little, while patients with more severe cases should get other types of palatal expanders.
Learning More Information About a Palatal Expander
During a consultation at Petty, Bielik and Burke Orthodontics, we can assess the condition of your palate and help you determine if a palatal expander can benefit you. This unique device may be all that it takes to give you the smile you have been wanting for so long. We have locations in Frankfort and Oak Lawn. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to get all the facts about what a palatal expander can do for you.