Palatal expanders are orthodontic appliances our team at Atlas Walk Dental & Orthodontics uses to improve the jaw position, the bite, and oral function in children. Positioned near the roof of the mouth, palatal expanders are attached to molar teeth on either side of the upper arch and gradually stretch the upper jaw bone and cartilage to achieve ideal jaw position and dimensions. When the upper arch is too narrow, the upper teeth may not erupt or overlap the lower teeth as they should. A palatal expander can gently expand the upper arch to create the space necessary for proper eruption of the adult teeth. To help your child achieve a healthy, functional smile, orthodontic specialist Dr. Randa Shakashiro and our team at Atlas Walk Dental & Orthodontics offer palatal expanders as part of an orthodontic treatment plan. If you believe your child may benefit from this type of care, contact our Gainesville, VA practice today to schedule a visit.
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Children who have narrow palatal (upper) arches may be ideal candidates for a palatal expander. When managed under the care of a skilled orthodontic specialist, a palatal expander can improve your child’s ability to eat and speak properly by enhancing oral function. This type of oral appliance can also help prevent a number of orthodontic concerns, including crossbite and crowding of the teeth. A palatal expander may also minimize the risk of tooth decay and gum infection by allowing your child’s teeth to grow into place properly. The best time in a child’s life to use a palatal expander (if one is necessary) is before the growth plates in the roof of the mouth fuse, which typically occurs during the mid-teenage years.
What to Expect
Palatal expanders are usually attached to the upper arch through bands that are positioned and bonded around molar teeth. They contain a wire, coil, or other hardware that stretches across the hard palate, from one side of the mouth to the other. In some cases, you and your child may need to use a special key that fits into the center of the appliance to adjust the expander. Over time, this will cause the upper arch to gradually widen. Your child may feel slight pressure in the upper jaw, especially right after the expander is adjusted, and may find chewing and speaking challenging until they become used to the appliance.
Plaque and food debris often have a tendency to collect around the palatal expander’s components. Cleaning around this type of appliance can prove challenging, so we recommend that you assist your child with brushing and flossing each day to help maintain good home care. Our team may also recommend adjunct tools to use to help keep your child’s mouth clean during this phase of orthodontic care.
It is not uncommon for spaces to develop between your child’s teeth when wearing a palatal expander, so if you notice this do not be alarmed. Dr. Shak will recommend follow-up visits in our Gainesville, VA practice to monitor your child’s oral health and progress while wearing a palatal expander. Our team may adjust the expander during these visits and will review any areas that require extra attention during home care. Dr. Shak will also let you know how long your child will need to wear the expander appliance to generate the best possible results for their smile. On average, patients need to wear a palatal expander for about 6 – 9 months. To help your child's oral health stay in top shape, our team recommends that your child receives regular dental cleanings and exams at Atlas Walk Dental & Orthodontics at least twice each year.
As an orthodontic procedure, space maintainers may be covered under your dental insurance if you have orthodontic treatment coverage. A member of our team will contact your insurance provider to review your child’s benefits and determine any personal costs. To make treatment affordable for our patients, we accept most PPOs along with a range of payment methods and third-party patient financing. Our practice is also happy to work with you and review your options for receiving the care your family needs.
A palatal expander may be incorporated into a comprehensive orthodontic treatment plan to create a healthy, comfortable smile for your child. This type of appliance widens the upper arch to allow for proper jaw development and oral function. To work with our caring and skilled orthodontic specialist, contact Atlas Walk Dental & Orthodontics in Gainesville, VA today and schedule a treatment consultation with Dr. Shak.