Palatal Expander

Fixing a narrow jaw

The Palatal expander is one of the most common ways to eliminate crowding and crossbites due to a narrow jaw in growing patients.

An expander is attached to the upper arch by bands placed around the teeth or plastic bonded over the teeth. Although there are removable expanders, fixed ones have an important advantage in that they cannot be lost or forgotten.

While there may be some initial discomfort when an expander is placed, for the most part upper arch expansion is relatively painless. Most patients report that they feel some “temporary pressure” on the roof of the mouth, which usually doesn’t last more than 30 seconds.

Besides pressure, you can also expect your child to speak differently for the first few days. One of the most visible signs that the expansion is working is the appearance of a space between the upper front teeth. The space is created as the expander places outward pressure on the left and right halves of the upper jaw. This pressure causes an increased amount of bone to grow between the right and left halves of the jaw, ultimately resulting in an increased width. Once you have stopped activating the expander, it is normal for the space to close spontaneously.

To make the first couple of days more bearable for your child as they adapt to their new expander, you may want to find some fun foods for them to eat that don’t require a lot of chewing. Examples include yogurt, pudding, mashed potatoes, ice cream, etc. A day or two after their delivery appointment, the expander will feel natural in their mouth and normal eating will resume.

After your child has reached their target, we will remove the expander and replace it with a retainer which will prevent relapse from occurring.