Most children receive a palate expander before getting braces. This is because a palate expander is one of the first things they may need in improving the set of their teeth. So, what does a palate expander do? How can this orthodontic device help your child? Keep reading to learn more about how palatal expanders work, their different types, problems they can fix, and more.
What is a Palatal Expander?
A palate expander used in orthodontics helps widen the upper jaw or the roof of the mouth. Though this orthodontic treatment is common in children, some do not need the device. In short, the treatment plan will depend on your child’s mouth condition.
Palatal expanders work by using gentle pressure to the palate until it reaches the ideal maxillary expansion. This orthodontic treatment can last three to twelve months, depending on your child’s condition. In fact, most orthodontists will keep the device in place after the desired expansion, so the palate hardens its new shape. After that, the treatment may continue as necessary, depending on your orthodontist’s opinion.
Types of Palate Expanders
Palate expanders come in various forms. They can be removable or remain fixed in the mouth for several months. Your child and the orthodontist will work together to determine which type is best for them.
Removable Palate Expander
These expanders are applicable for patients who only require a minor jaw widening. It is advisable to wear removable palate expanders 24 hours a day, except when playing sports, brushing teeth, and eating food. In this treatment, your child may only need to turn the screw two or three times a week.
Hyrax Rapid Palatal Expander
This is a fixed device that can fit snugly around individual back molars. In fact, the orthodontist will glue the bands into the teeth to secure the expander in place. It also has a screw located in the middle, under the roof of the mouth. The orthodontist will give the key to turn this screw with directions on how to do it.
Quad Helix Appliance
Like hyrax rapid palatal expanders, quad helix appliances are also fixed palate expanders attached to the back molars. The orthodontist places them into the mouth in a compressed arrangement. Over time, this device gently opens independently and does not need manual adjustments at home.
Haas Palate Expander
Another fixed palatal expander attached to the back molars is the Haas expander. Its screw sits in the middle of an acrylic plate, which is used to widen the upper jaw when adjusted. In any case, the process of this device can cause pressure on the palate and teeth.
Implant-supported expanders are ideal for patients who have fully developed jaws. A fully developed jaw requires heavier forces to widen the palate and jaw effectively. This treatment comprises four mini-implants that use force directly to the maxillary bone rather than the teeth.
When Does Your Child Need a Palate Expander?
Remember that not every child needs this type of orthodontic treatment. But if you think your kid may require one or other treatments to improve their teeth, visit your orthodontist. They will help you identify whether an expander is essential during treatment.
Let’s look at some dental issues that may indicate your kid needs a palatal expander.
A narrow upper jaw restricts the accessible space for adult teeth to emerge. This condition can lead to several issues, like an impacted tooth. An impacted tooth in children happens when the adult tooth gets trapped inside the gum, and there is not enough space to erupt correctly.
In addition, an impacted tooth can be very painful and increase the risk of jaw misalignment and other dental complications. Using a palate expander substantially decreases this issue, widening the palate and making enough room for the impacted tooth to grow appropriately.
Restricted palatal space likewise expands the danger of crowded teeth. With a narrow palate, teeth need to compress to accommodate all the developing teeth, frequently causing problems like overlapping, bunching, twisting or angling forward or backward.
Without proper dental intervention, crowded teeth can worsen over time. Also, this condition makes it difficult for your child to properly clean their teeth and mouth. This can cause plaque buildup and expand the possibility of tooth decay and gum disease.
A palatal expander helps the palate widen, giving the permanent teeth more breathing room to develop. A roomier mouth makes it simpler for your kid to keep up with their oral health. Also, this helps an orthodontist to improve your child’s smile using other dental devices like braces.
The proper alignment for the upper and lower jaw is essential to fit together. However, if your child has a narrow palate, it can distort the upper jaw, causing a bite issue called a crossbite. Crossbite occurs when the upper back teeth fit inside the lower back teeth. If left untreated, it may worsen the condition, causing other issues like tooth chipping and gum disease. Luckily, palate expanders and braces can help avoid those complications.
How Much Does A Palatal Expander Cost?
The expense of palatal expander treatment may depend on your child’s condition, location, and orthodontist’s proficiency. Most of the time, a palate expander costs somewhere between $2000 and $3000. Just verify what’s included in the fees before starting any treatment.
In addition, you can also check your insurance coverage. As a matter of fact, most insurance plans cover most or all the palatal expansion costs since the treatment is medically necessary.
How Palate Expanders Work
Palatal expanders work by applying tension to the maxillary bones sufficiently able to separate the bones at the stitch. This process widens the entire upper jaw and enlarges the palate.
The upper jaw has two bones, known as maxillary bones. In fact, they are connected together in the centre of the intermaxillary stitch. This attachment forms one structure called the maxilla.
The combination of these two bones happens during the middle teen years. That is why palate expander treatment is ideal before developing the mid-palatal stitch in the early adolescent years.
What to Expect
After turning the key, your child may encounter some soreness or a feeling of pressure. However, adjusting an expander actually causes less distress than having braces fixed. Your kid might find that talking and eating feel distinctive at first as the tongue adjusts to the device’s presence in the mouth. It is likewise typical to see a hole develop between the front teeth. This effect only demonstrates that the palatal expander is having the desired impact.
In any case, other possible side effects of palatal expansion include:
- increased saliva production
- a gap between the front teeth
- a buildup of food debris between the roof of the mouth and expander
- trouble speaking, chewing or swallowing
- frequent headaches
Once your child completes the treatment, your kid’s permanent teeth will be pleasingly aligned with neither an excessive amount nor too little space between them.
Cleaning and Care
Dealing with the palate expander is relatively simple. Help your child brush their teeth at least thrice a day or after eating a meal. A syringe with water can eliminate any extra food particles when brushing and rinsing does not get the job done.
Also, there are some food sources that your kid should keep away from. It would be better for your child to avoid chewing sticky foods, nuts, candy, and ice. Also, stop your child from biting the tip of the pencils or putting other objects in their mouth that could damage the expander.
Utilizing a palatal expander to extend the roof of your child’s mouth will help get incredible outcomes later on. Encourage your child to take care of their expander by taking care of their teeth and mouth. They will have a healthy and beautiful smile at the end of this journey.
Tooth decay and gum disease.
Taking a Glance at Anterior Crossbite in Children: Case Series.
he Anatomy of the Maxilla.