What Is Palatal Expansion?
If your child has a narrow or high palate, palatal expansion can help create more space in the mouth by widening the upper jaw.
Orthodontic issues such as a narrow palate can start to appear in young children by age 7. Left untreated, this condition can lead to serious oral and physical health issues with impacted teeth, crowding in the mouth and breathing.
Young children's jaws are still malleable and developing. This is an ideal time to conduct an early orthodontic assessment to determine whether a palatal expander would help prevent future issues such as obesity and sleep apnea.
Plus, if we can detect and treat orthodontic issues early, we can not only help your child chew, eat and breathe more easily but also potentially reduce the amount of time they would need to wear braces or Invisalign clear aligners as a teenager.
While your child may still likely need orthodontic treatment as a teenager, widening the plate can make it easier to use braces or Invisalign clear aligners to shift teeth into their proper positions.
Why Palatal Expanders for Kids?
In early childhood, there's a lot happening in your child's mouth as their jaw grows, primary teeth fall out and adult teeth come in. Sometimes, issues emerge that can be treated early with palatal expanders. With these, we can:
- Help your child breathe, eat and chew more easily
- Treat or prevent long-term oral and overall physical health issues such as sleep apnea, Temporomandibular Disorder and others
- Potentially avoid the need for complicated, more invasive treatments such as tooth extraction or jaw surgery
- Change the appearance of your child's smile to be more aesthetically pleasing
- Shorten overall orthodontic treatment time with braces or Invisalign in the teen years
How Palatal Expanders Work
Since palatal bones continue to grow until a child reaches puberty, the ideal time to find out whether they have a narrow palate is in early childhood.
Palatal expanders are designed to gradually widen the upper jaw, creating more space in your child's mouth as jaw development takes place and adult teeth emerge.
These custom-made orthodontic metal appliances expand the shape of the bones that form the palate. They are typically fixed to the back teeth on either side of the upper arch and removed on completion of Phase 1 treatment. For younger patients undergoing Phase 1 treatment, palatal expanders can be constructed to be removable.
You can easily turn the expander with a simple key, which gently expands the palate by a ¼ mm with each turn to develop true palatal width to accommodate growth.