A palate expander is important for children because it can help prevent overcrowding and possible impaction of the teeth, which can lead to a variety of dental problems. Overcrowding occurs when there is not enough space in the mouth for all of the teeth to grow in properly. This can cause teeth to become crooked, misaligned, or impacted. All of these problems can lead to issues with bite alignment, chewing, speech, and even self-esteem.
It’s best to begin pre-orthodontic treatment early, usually between the ages of 6 and 10 years old. During this time, the child’s jaws are still growing and developing, making it easier to guide the growth in the right direction. Jumping on treatment early can help correct problems like crowding, spacing, and bite issues before they become more complicated and difficult to correct in their later years.
Pre-orthodontics can address bite issues, crowding and misaligned teeth, facial appearance, and airway problems.
A palate expander is an orthodontic device used to widen the upper jaw. It’s used to address issues such as overcrowding, crossbites, and narrow arches. The treatment often only lasts a few months and is most commonly used in children and adolescents whose jaws are still developing.
To work, the palate expander applies pressure to the upper molars to gradually widen the arch of the upper jawbone through a process called osteogenesis. Osteogenesis is when the palate splits apart and creates new bone tissue in the gap. After the body has formed new bone tissue in the gap, it stabilizes the jaw and prevents relapse after the device is removed.
Our orthodontists will evaluate the patient’s records (x-rays, photographs, impressions, and in-person examination notes) to determine the treatment plan. At this consultation, our orthodontist will describe how long the patient will need to wear the palate expander. In most cases, pre-orthodontic treatment can last from a few to several months.
Palate expanders can cause some discomfort, but it’s nothing more than Tylenol or Ibuprofin can’t help. If the expander material is irritating in the mouth, the patient can apply wax to the edges until the mouth adjusts to it.