A palatal expander is an orthodontic appliance used to widen the upper jaw (the maxilla) in children, so that the upper teeth fit together with the bottom ones properly.
What are palatal expanders for?
The name 'palatal expander’ is literal; it describes exactly what these orthodontic appliances do. They expand the arch (or palate), in order make enough room for permanent teeth to grow in as they should, and not become crowded in the mouth.
A palatal expander is necessary for children whose jaw growth is not keeping up with the growth of their teeth, a fairly common issue.
How does a palatal expander work?
Palatal expanders come in removable or fixed varieties.The expander is attached to the patient’s upper arch with bands, which are placed around the teeth. In some cases, they are attached with a plastic material that is bonded over the teeth.
The key in the expander is then turned at intervals prescribed by the orthodontist, so that it widens the arch in small increments.
Does Palatal Expansion hurt?
The expander may feel uncomfortable at first. Most of the time, though, palatal expansion doesn't hurt, aside from the occasional feeling of pressure on the teeth and across the roof of the mouth.