If your child experiences issues with their bite or has a small jaw, your orthodontist may suggest a dental palate expander. Since children’s upper jaws do not stop growing until they have completed puberty, a palate expander is an easy way to adjust your child’s jaw before it reaches its permanent size. Using a dental expander can also help prevent future issues such as gum disease or jaw pain.
Expander braces are custom-made devices made of two metal pieces connected by a screw. They fit on the back molars of your child’s upper jaw. Each day, you or your child will turn the screw in the middle a small amount, pushing apart the two sides of the jaw expander braces. After your orthodontist feels your child’s upper jaw is the ideal size, the expander will remain in its final position for a few months as the bone forms to stabilize the upper jaw.
Using palate expander braces has many benefits. It can broaden your child’s smile and limit the need for extracting teeth to create space in the mouth. A palate expander can reduce the need for braces or shorten the amount of time your child needs to wear braces. Palate expanders may also fix issues such as:
- Crossbite: With a crossbite, the back top teeth rest inside the lower teeth instead of outside, requiring an expansion.
- Crowding: Before your child’s adult teeth come in, your orthodontist will be able to tell if their jaw requires expansion to help the teeth grow in straight.
- Impacted teeth: If an adult tooth cannot come in due to other teeth blocking its entry, widening the jaw will allow the tooth to move into the proper position on its own.
After your child receives an orthodontic expander, they may feel some soreness each time they turn the key, but this feeling will quickly fade. Your child may also experience difficulty speaking and eating after they first receive their expander due to their tongue adjusting to the device in their mouth.
Having your child take proper care of their upper jaw expander is similar to the process of caring for their teeth. They should brush their expander and the metal parts and screws each time they brush their teeth. Additionally, after your child eats, they should quickly rinse out their mouth with water to flush out any food stuck in the expander. In general, your child should avoid sticky foods to prevent the expander from becoming dislodged.
At Nicolas Orthodontics, we strive to provide professional, accessible dental care to all our patients. Whether your child needs a palate expander or retainer to maintain the results of their expander, we offer various orthodontic appliances to our patients. From your first visit to the last, we aim to ensure our clients have a positive dental experience.