Straightening a set of pearly whites often requires more tools than just brackets and wires! When your child has a narrow palate, excessive crowding, or crooked teeth, they may benefit from the help of another orthodontic appliance called a palatal expander. Most parents have never heard of this appliance, so if Dr. Leavitt just told your child they need one, here’s everything you need to know about palatal expanders courtesy of the Whitewater Orthodontic Studios team.
Our Whitewater Orthodontic Studios team sees patients with all sorts of orthodontic conditions, and one of the most common is a narrow palate. Having a narrow palate means you lack space in your mouth, and a lack of space in your mouth usually results in crooked, crowded, or overlapping teeth.
These conditions can lead to even more problems in your child’s everyday life that aren’t confined to their smile. Crowding and crossbites can cause headaches, tooth pain, decay, or even sleep apnea, but don’t worry! A palatal expander can address these problems and leave your child with a smile they’ll feel proud of.
How do palatal expanders work?
Palatal expanders are unique metal tools that fit on the roof of your child’s mouth. These adjustable appliances exert a constant pressure that gently broadens the upper jaw for three to six months, giving their teeth more space to shift in line. Palatal expanders are patient-friendly and so easy to adjust that they can do it at home!
When Dr. Leavitt attaches the palatal expander to a patient’s teeth, we’ll give them a special adjustment tool and a tightening schedule. This tool looks and works like a key. To adjust the appliance as directed, simply insert the key into the hole in the middle of the device and turn.
Your child may feel slight discomfort when you tighten their expander, but these adjustments are much milder than the kind they get at their regular braces appointment at our office — they’ll hardly feel a difference.
Who should get a palatal expander?
Palatal expanders work best for younger patients whose mouths are still growing. The palate of your child’s mouth is made of two separate bones that meet in the middle. When they reach puberty, these bones fuse together. Until then, they are pliable — and that’s where expanders come in.
The flexibility of these bones allows a palatal expander to work with your child’s natural growth. As the tool gently pushes the bones away from one another, new bone grows to fill in the space and voila! They have a wider palate and more space for their teeth to line up properly.
Here to Make Your Child’s Dream Smile Come True
At Whitewater Orthodontic Studios, we believe that straight teeth are the key to a happy smile. We offer a wide range of treatment options, from Invisalign to metal braces, so your child can get the confidence of a straight smile in no time. If your child is seven or over, it’s time to schedule them for their first orthodontic appointment, so don’t wait! Book your free consultation in Parkland, Yelm, or Lacy today!