Palatal Expander

palatal expander model

You might need an expander to widen your upper jaw to improve your bite (if you have cross bite) and/or to make more room for your teeth. At Elite Orthodontics, Ammar Al-Mahdi, DDS helps people in Falls Church and Fairfax, Virginia understand if an expander can help achieve their smile goals. To find out more about palatal expanders and how they could help advance your orthodontic treatment, call Elite Orthodontics or book an appointment online.

What is a palatal expander?

A palatal expander is a fixed or removable oral appliance designed to widen your upper jaw. It puts pressure on your upper molars. At regularly scheduled visits every few months, Dr. Ammar helps you adjust your expander to shift your palate just a bit wider. Each time the expander is adjusted, you wear it for several months so the adjustment holds.

Who is a candidate for a palatal expander?

Children and teens respond well to palatal expanders because their natural growth process means their palate is more amenable to shifting. The palate develops as two separate halves that don’t interlock together until after puberty. A palatal expander helps the two bones separate gently and stabilize in a better position over the course of several months.

What conditions call for a palatal expander?

An expander can treat several bite issues. In the case of a crossbite, when a child’s upper jaw doesn’t fit correctly with the lower jaw, they’re top back teeth align inside the lower teeth instead of outside. Expanding the upper jaw helps the teeth fit together correctly.

Crowded teeth also benefit from the use of an expander. Dr. Ammar can evaluate your child’s X-rays and tooth-eruption pattern to determine if there will not be enough space to accommodate all their teeth. An expander can prevent crowding by making space in the upper jaw.

Widening the jaw can also help prevent teeth from becoming impacted. Impacted teeth are those that can’t emerge through the gum because other teeth are blocking their way. By expanding the upper jaw, room is left for all teeth to emerge.

What are the aesthetic and functional benefits of using an expander?

An expander can also help improve the look of your smile and improve breathing. Early use of an expander can shorten overall orthodontic treatment time, meaning your child will need to wear braces for a shorter duration.

To learn more about the potential smile benefits of treatment with a palatal expander, call Elite Orthodontics or book an appointment online today.

Adjusting the palatal expander

You can also download these instructions in a printable PDF document.

Step 1

Step 1

In a well-lit area, tip the patient's head back.

Step 2

Step 2

Place the key in the hole until it is firmly in place.

Step 3

Step 3

Push the key toward the back of the mouth. You will notice the fender will rotate and the new hole will appear. The rotation stops when the key meets the back of the expander.

Step 4

Step 4

Press back and down toward the tongue to remove the key. The next hole for insertion of the key should now be visible.