A person’s palate (otherwise referred to as the roof of the mouth) might need to be expanded for a few different reasons. A palate expander is usually recommended early on in orthodontic treatment and it’s designed to do exactly what it sounds like: make the palate larger. Your child’s orthodontist might recommend a palate expander prior to braces, or they might determine a palate expander is the only treatment your child needs. If you’ve been wondering if your child needs a palate expander, here are some things you should look out for:
A crossbite is simply when your two rows of teeth don’t line up with each other. Ideally, your upper row of teeth should rest just a little outside the lower teeth, but if that doesn’t happen, it’s referred to as a crossbite. A crossbite can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and stress on the jaw muscles, which can in turn cause tension, which can lead to headaches, along with chronic pain in the jaw, neck, shoulder, and even the back. Crossbite can also lead to bruxism, which can cause its own dental problems, including erosion of the enamel, erosion of the teeth themselves, and tooth decay as a result. It can even cause the rest of the skull and facial features to grow asymmetrically, and once that happens, there’s no way to correct it.
If your child’s teeth are crowded and there just isn’t room for the adult teeth that are coming in, it might be time for a palate expander. Crowded teeth can cause all kinds of problems, including tooth decay, tooth shifting, and crossbite, so if you’ve noticed your child’s teeth are overly crowded, especially in the top row, it’s time to consider a palate expander.
How It Works
Each expander is custom made for the patient, and once it is installed, it is cemented or bonded to several upper molar teeth, just like regular braces. The expander consists of two sides that are connected in the middle with a screw. Your orthodontist will provide you with a special key that fits into the screw so you can turn it, thereby pushing the upper teeth apart and causing the palate to expand. The palate expander will need to be turned once or twice a day until the palate has reached the desired expansion, at which point the orthodontist will leave the expander in until the bones of the palate have had time to adjust to their new position.
Does It Hurt?
Your child will experience some discomfort, much like the discomfort caused by braces. They’ll feel the most discomfort right after the screw is turned, just like the tension experienced after braces have been tightened, but as the bones adjust to their new position, the tension will fade and your child will no longer experience any discomfort.
Just beware of food getting stuck in and around the palate expander, especially the screw. It’s a hazard that comes with the treatment, and if not properly attended to, it can lead to tooth decay and cavities, just like braces.
If you want to keep your teeth healthy and strong, you must take care of them. At Simply Smiles Dentistry, we can show you how to properly care for your teeth. You will have a great smile that lasts a lifetime.
Until next time…Keep on Smiling!