Orthodontic palate expanders are a type of orthodontic device that is used to widen the upper jaw. They are a critical tool in orthodontic treatment, and are often used to correct issues such as overcrowding, bite misalignment, constricted upper airways and other dental problems. In this article, we will explore what orthodontic palate expanders are, how they work, and why you might need them.
Definition & Purpose
Orthodontic palate expanders are devices that are used to widen the upper jaw. They work by using the teeth or bone as handles to apply light lateral pressure subsequently causing the mid palatal suture to stretch. This creates more space in the mouth by creating new bone. Expansion can be helpful in correcting issues such as overcrowding, bite misalignment, narrow palates, upper airway construction, and other dental problems.
The purpose of using orthodontic palate expanders is to improve the function of the mouth and teeth. By creating more space in the mouth, orthodontic palate expanders can help to improve a patient's bite, jaw alignment, and overall oral health. They are particularly useful in cases where there is not enough space in the mouth for teeth to grow properly, or where there is overcrowding.
Types of Palate Expanders
There are several types of orthodontic palate expanders, including rapid banded palatal expanders, rapid banded palatal expanders, mini-screw assisted rapid palatial expanders (MARPE), and removable expanders. All of the expanders work by using a screw mechanism and either the teeth or bone as anchors to widen the palate over a period of several weeks.
Banded palatal expanders are similar to bonded palatal expanders, but they are attached to the teeth with metal bands. Bonded palatal expanders are similar to banded expanders, but they are attached to the teeth with a dental adhesive. Removable expanders are another option, and they can be taken out of the mouth for cleaning and adjustment. Mini-screw assisted rapid palatial expanders (MARPE) are attached to the bone.
How Palate Expanders Work
Orthodontic palate expanders work by stretching the mid palatal suture, which is the area where the two halves of the upper jaw come together. By creating more space in the mouth, orthodontic palate expanders can help to improve a patient's bite, jaw alignment, upper airway constriction, overall esthetics, and general oral health.
When an orthodontic palate expander is first placed in the mouth, it can be uncomfortable and may cause some pain or discomfort. However, over time, the patient's mouth will adjust to the device, and the discomfort will subside.
Benefits of Palate Expanders
There are many benefits to using orthodontic palate expanders. They can help to improve a patient's bite and jaw alignment, which can lead to better oral health. They can also create more space in the mouth, which can be helpful in correcting issues such as overcrowding.
In addition to these benefits, orthodontic palate expanders can also help to improve a patient's upper airway, which can lead to better breathing during sleep. They can also improve speech and pronunciation, which can be particularly helpful in children who are still developing their language skills.
Procedure for Palate Expansion
The procedure for orthodontic palate expansion typically involves two main steps. The first step is the placement of the expander, which is typically done in a dental office. During this step, the expander is attached to the upper molars and or bone with metal bands, dental adhesive, or miniature screws.
The second step is the adjustment of the expander. This is typically done by turning a small screw on the expander each day for several weeks. This helps to gradually widen the palate and create more space in the mouth.
After the expander has achieved the desired amount of widening, it will typically remain in place for at least 4 months to allow the new bone to form and stabilize the widened palate. During this time, the patient will continue to see their orthodontist for regular checkups to ensure that the device is working properly and to make any necessary adjustments.
It is important to note that the orthodontic palate expansion process can be uncomfortable and may cause some pain or discomfort initially. However, most patients find that any discomfort is manageable and that the benefits of the treatment outweigh any temporary discomfort.
Risks & Side Effects
As with any medical treatment, there are some risks and side effects associated with orthodontic palate expanders. The most common side effects include pain and discomfort, particularly during the initial placement and adjustment period. Patients may also experience some difficulty speaking or eating, particularly during the first few days after the device is placed in the mouth.
More serious risks are very rare, but they can include damage to the teeth or gums, infection, and allergic reactions to the metal used in the device. Patients should be sure to discuss any concerns they have with their orthodontist before beginning treatment.
Ask an Expert
Orthodontic palate expanders are an important tool for improving oral health and correcting issues with overcrowding and bite misalignment. If you or a loved one is in need of orthodontic treatment, consider visiting Hillam Orthodontics in Idaho Falls. Our team of experienced orthodontists can help determine if an orthodontic palate expander is the right treatment option for you, and can guide you through the treatment process to ensure the best possible outcome. Don't wait to get started on the path to a healthier, more confident smile – schedule a consultation with Hillam Orthodontics today.
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