La Habra/Chino Hills, CA – Some people are born with a narrow upper jaw and not every person is born with a jaw that can adequately fit all of their permanent teeth. This can then result in crowding and misalignment. But for patients with growing jaws, there is a way to help create room and make the orthodontic result much more stable. It can also ensure that the bite can function properly.
Why a Palatal Expander?
“Many people often ask us why they might need an appliance such as a palatal expander,” says Dr. Robert Gire of Gire Orthodontics. “Braces do a wonderful job at moving the teeth to where they should be, but some issues are not just dental in nature. There can be skeletal issues as well.”
Correcting Skeletal Issues with Expanders
For patients with narrow palates due to skeletal issues, expanders are an important appliance to correct the bite. A palatal expander fits in the roof of the mouth and works to gradually move the upper jawbones apart. They are used in adolescent patients who still have growing jaws.
When is a Palatal Expander Recommended?
Your orthodontist may recommend a palatal expander for a few different reasons:
- Crooked teeth
- Impacted teeth
- Problems chewing
- Open bites
How Does a Palatal Expander Work?
The most common expander will fit over the roof of the mouth and is attached to the upper back molars for stability. There is a tiny screw in the middle of the expander that, when activated, works to move the two palatal bones apart. When done regularly over time, the upper jaw will become wider.
The Process of Jaw Expansion
Once the upper jaw has reached the desired level of expansion, the expander will remain in place long enough to ensure the jawbones can fuse to the new width. This typically takes between four and six months.
Benefits of Palatal Expanders
“There are several benefits of palatal expanders for patients,” says Dr. Gire. “They can correct a wide range of dental issues related to skeletal deficiencies, prevent the need for future oral surgery, and they work with braces. It can take a bit of time to get used to the expander but the benefits far outweigh the minor inconveniences one may experience in the beginning.”
Why Bite Alignment Matters
Ensuring an ideal bite is important, not just for the esthetics of the smile, but for its overall health, as well. You may be more prone to cavities, uneven wear on your teeth, TMJ pain, and problems with biting and chewing. Palatal expanders are a great orthodontic tool to help patients achieve their most ideal smiles.