Palatal Expanders: What They Do

Palatal Expanders Gainesville, VA

What are palatal expanders, and what do they do?  Expanders are a helpful tool that orthodontists use to help patients who may need to have their jaw structure changed. There are several benefits of palatal expanders, particularly for those who have crowded teeth or issues with their teeth not being correctly aligned. Typically, expanders are used for children and teens who may have their bones still growing.

What do they do?

The purpose of the expander is to correct an alignment in the mouth. Many times, they are used when there is a lack of space for teeth to fill in or if there is a crossbite between arches. A crossbite refers to a specific alignment where the upper teeth fit into the lower teeth or vice versa. Your dental arch refers to the top or bottom sections of your teeth. Essentially, the expander works to bring your arches together properly.

Why would I need expanders?

Children specifically need expanders because their bones are still fusing together, making it an ideal time to mold them correctly. They are ideal for any misalignment, which can lead to inflammation, decay, and weakness in the teeth. The expander itself is a silver device placed on the arch that runs along your teeth to adjust them. Many times, both arches will be connected with a screw in the mouth, which you turn to tighten on a scheduled discussion with your orthodontist. The product is made specifically for your jaw structure. You will likely feel a difference in pressure on your teeth at the time of adjustment, but it is typically not painful.

What is it like to wear them?

There are many different types of palatal expanders. Some of them include removable palate expanders, Hyrax rapid palatal expander, quad helix appliance, and the Haas expander. Removable expanders must always be worn but should be removed when brushing or eating. The Hyrax expander uses bands that fit tightly around the tooth that is glued in place but still has the screw to tighten on a schedule. Similarly, the Haas expander is bonded to the teeth and has a screw-on acrylic plate that pushes on both the palate and teeth. The quad-helix also has expanders glued but opens over time, meaning you do not have to tighten them. You may need to get used to chewing or speaking with the new item in your mouth, but it does not take long to get accustomed to the feeling.

Every individual is different in what type of expander they need and how long they need to wear them. While some may only need to wear them for a few months, others may need to wear them for a year or longer. You must keep up on your daily oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash. Discuss your options with your orthodontist to see if expanders can aid in your tooth alignment.

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