The Palatal Expander Appliance
A palatal expander is an orthodontic appliance commonly used in early orthodontic treatment to widen the upper jaw bone and create sufficient space for a healthy set of permanent teeth to grow without crowding or overlapping. It also helps correct crossbites when the posterior upper and lower teeth do not fit together the way they should.
There are different types of palatal expanders used for different cases. When Dr. Caudill or Dr. McNeights completes your complimentary consultation, they will suggest the most effective treatment route for you or your child’s case!
Who can benefit from a palatal expander?
This appliance is most effective when the jaw bones are still developing and the permanent teeth are erupting through the gums. The optimal palatal expander age is generally between ages 5 and 12.
How does a palatal expander work?
There are a few requirements you’ll have to fulfill to be a candidate for same day braces! Here’s what you can do to prepare:
This appliance uses small metal bands, positioned around the upper molars, with an expansion screw attached to the bands that sits in the centered in of the roof of the mouth.
You’ll insert a special key into the center screw and rotate the key backwards, toward your throat to turn and activate the expander. Activating the expander will trigger it to exert outward pressure on the upper back teeth.
Over time, these tiny turns will expand the upper jaw to the desired width. Once the jaw bone is properly expanded, you or your child will continue to wear the appliance for several months to prevent the bones and teeth from reverting to their original position.
Signs That You May Need a Palatal Expander
- Teeth crowding or overlapping each other
- Upper teeth in crossbite
- Narrow upper palate
- Mouth breathing from narrow palate and narrow nasal airway
- Difficulty chewing or biting cheeks
- Impacted teeth (teeth are blocked and cannot erupt through the gums)
Types of Palatal Expanders in our Practice
Rapid Palatal Expander
The most common type of palatal expander is the RPE (rapid palatal expander). This one is bonded to the teeth and remains in place, through the day and night. The RPE is activated each day to gradually expand the upper jaw.
Slow Fixed Palatal expander
Another type of bonded palatal expander that is used when less jaw expansion is needed. These expanders are activated in our office either once or a couple times to achieve the desired expansion.
Are there palatal expander side effects?
The expansion process can sound a bit intimidating, but you can rest assured that plenty of people have undergone successful treatment with palatal expanders. You can think of braces or Invisalign as tooth straightening superheros and palatal expanders are the sidekick that makes them even better.
It will take you a couple days to adjust to speech and eating after a palatal expander is placed but you should not experience any large amounts of palatal expander pain at any point in your treatment. Your appliance will be custom-designed to fit your mouth to make it as comfortable as possible.
When activating a palatal expander by turning the key, you may experience a slight tingling around the bridge of your nose. This feeling should go away within a few minutes.
It is very common for a gap to develop between the patient’s top front teeth when using a palatal expander. As the jaw expands, half of the teeth are moving to the right and the other half are moving to the left which produces space. Be rest assured these gaps are temporary. We will make sure they are closed through the rest of your orthodontic treatment.
Palatal Expander Cost
The cost of your expander will be factored into your personalized treatment plan. Your treatment cost will depend on a few things, including the severity of your condition, the length of your treatment, and the payment plan you choose.
At your first visit to one of our offices, we’ll discuss your financial needs to create a payment plan that works for you!
Still have questions about palatal expanders?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.