What is an Expander?

Palatal Expanders: What Are They and How Do They Work

A palate expander is an orthodontic appliance designed to widen the upper jaw (maxilla). It is mainly used for correcting the posterior dental cross bite, relieving dental crowding, widening the smile arc, and widening the floor of the nasal cavity to improve the nasal airflow.

A Palate expander can be used on its own, or in combination with other orthodontic appliances such as Braces, Functional Appliances, or Headgears. There are two types of palatal expanders – fixed expander (glued to teeth), and removable expander. Each type has its own indications, advantages and disadvantages. Your Orthodontist will give you advice around the type that is most suitable for you or your child. All palate expanders are custom-made. They are either made from impression taken from the mouth, or digital scan taken from the mouth.

When is the best timing for treatment with a Palatal Expander? And do they work for Adults?

Palatal expanders do not work as well for adults when compared to children or adolescents. This is because the sutures surrounding the upper jaw (maxilla) fuses and calcifies as a child grows older. Once the sutures are fused and completely calcified, the upper jaw can no longer be expanded. Therefore, if there is an indication for upper jaw expansion, it is best to have palate expander treatment early. The most common age for palate expander treatment is from 8 to 15 years of age.

For adult treatment, if the amount of expansion is small, then palatal expander may work however, if the amount of expansion is significant (such as correction of posterior crossbite), then palate expander combined with jaw surgery will be required.

Are Palatal Expanders Really Necessary?

If there is an upper and lower jaw size discrepancy, then palate expander treatment is necessary. A Narrow upper jaw can cause lasting bite problems and can impact physical appearance. Once the diagnosis of narrow upper jaw has been confirmed through clinical and radiographic records your Orthodontists will provide advise around the options of addressing the problem with upper palatal expander treatment — especially in children or young adolescents.  It is an easy fix if treated early as the expander will work alongside the Childs natural growth the help develop the upper jaw to provide improve airways, speech and dental development.

Benefits of Palatal Expanders

Expansion of your upper jaw can positively impact your life in a number of ways, and not all are aesthetic.

Some common results include:

  • Correcting posterior dental crossbite
  • Correcting overbite and underbite (in combination with other orthodontic appliances)
  • Relief of mild to moderate dental crowding
  • Widening of the smile arc
  • Improving airflow through nasal cavity

Book your free consultation to find out more and if you or your child would benefits from palatal expander treatment.