The roof of your mouth that is also part of your upper jaw is called the palate. When the palate is too narrow, issues with your bite, the alignment of your teeth, or your breathing can result. Palatal expanders are common orthodontic devices used to widen your palate during your treatment. During your orthodontic consultation, Dr. Stevens will examine your palate to see if you will require a palatal expander during treatment.
What is a palatal expander?
The palatal expander is a common orthodontic appliance that gently applies pressure to stimulate bone growth at the midline suture. The device is attached to the upper molars and an adjustment key is turned once or twice a day to apply a specific amount of pressure. Dr. Stevens will instruct you on the frequency of the adjustments. In general, the process is gentle and does not cause pain, although minimal discomfort is normal. During treatment, a gap may develop between the two front teeth as the palate expands. This gap almost always closes on its own, but braces may be required after use of the palatal expander to correct the spacing of the teeth. The entire process of palatal expansion generally lasts about two to three weeks. However, to make sure the new expansion does not regress, the appliance will need to be worn for several additional weeks.
How does a palatal expander work?
The upper jaw is also called the maxilla. It consists of both the palate and the entire upper arch of your teeth. As children, the two bones of the maxilla are not yet fused into what is called the midline suture. Around puberty, the two maxilla bones fuse together. Treating narrow palates with a palatal expander is a common treatment that we prefer to do when patients are young to take advantage of the plasticity of their midline suture. When you schedule an orthodontic exam when your child is young, this allows us to intervene early if your child’s palate is narrow, allowing for an easier overall orthodontic experience.
Palatal Expansion in Omaha, NE
The Braces Omaha staff is available to schedule your complimentary consultation with Dr. Stevens to discuss your orthodontic needs, including an assessment of the palate. We look forward to getting you or your child started on the path to a beautiful and healthy smile!