A child's narrow palate can lead to dental issues such as crowding, impacted teeth, or a crossbite. To help correct, or prevent, these issues and more, your Coquitlam orthodontist may recommend a palatal expander for your child. Here's how these common dental appliances work...
Palatal Expanders - What They Are
Palatal expanders are common orthodontic appliances that are used to gently increase the width of your child's upper jaw (the maxilla). By widening the upper jaw expanders help correct orthodontic issues such as a crossbite, crowded teeth, or impacted teeth. Palatal expanders are so effective that they are among the most prescribed orthodontic treatments for kids.
Our Coquitlam orthodontists understand that palatal expanders can be a little intimidating at first. Parents often feel somewhat unnerved at the idea of turning a key to widen the expander, but have no fear! These devices are easy to use, and after you've done it a few times you and your child will get used to it and feel more relaxed about the process.
What Palatal Expanders Do
Palatal expanders do exactly what the name suggests, they gradually expand the child's palate (or arch), to help create room for the permanent teeth to erupt correctly without causing crowding problems. Expanders are recommended for children whose jaw growth is unable able to keep up with the amount of space required for the incoming adult teeth.
How Palatal Expanders Work to Correct Young Smiles
First your child will be fitted with either a fixed palatal expander or a removable model to help treat their orthodontic issues. The expander will be attached to your child's upper arch, and held in place either with bands around the teeth or attached with a plastic material that is bonded over your child's teeth. Once the expander has been fitted in place, your child's orthodontist will instruct you on how often and how much you should turn the key. Every time you turn the key the expander will slightly widen your child's dental arch.
How Palatal Expanders Feel
Most orthodontic devices cause some level of discomfort but generally this sensation is not described by patients as pain (even young patients). You should expect it to take a few days for your child's mouth to adjust to the expander, and during that time they may experience some mild discomfort. That said, any discomfort they experience should fade quickly. Most of our young patients report that they only feel occasional discomfort or a feeling of pressure on their teeth or the roof of their mouth.