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Palatal Expanders – Richardson, TX

A Guide for Proper Jaw Development

Here at Richardson Orthodontics, we offer a number of orthodontic appliances that are designed to support the long-term success of our patients’ treatments. One such appliance is known as a palatal expander, which we sometimes prescribe as part of phase 1 orthodontic care. An expander serves as a guide for proper development of the upper jaw, which can open the way for the incoming teeth to emerge in their ideal positions. Would you like to learn more about palatal expanders? Read on below.

Why Choose Richardson Orthodontics for Palatal Expanders?

  • Personalized Care for Each Patient
  • Experienced, Compassionate Orthodontic Team
  • Custom Appliances Made In-House

What Is a Palatal Expander?

Angled illustration of palatal expander in Richardson

A palatal expander is a custom-made orthodontic appliance that applies gentle pressure to a young patient’s hard palate (upper jaw, the roof of the mouth) in order to gradually widen it over time. Its goal is to create space so there is enough room for all of a patient’s teeth to function properly in their ideal positions.

Typically, palatal expanders are best used in patients between the ages of 5 and 16. They may be recommended when an individual has one or more of the following orthodontic issues:

  • Crossbite
  • Overcrowding
  • Impacted teeth
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose due to a narrow upper airway

How Does a Palatal Expander Work?

Portrait of smiling child in white t-shirt

In most cases, a palatal expander is attached to a patient’s molars (back teeth) via small metal rings. Some expanders are removable, whereas others are not. Regardless of whether the device is removable, it should have an expansion screw that will gradually widen the expander and thereby widen the patient’s upper jaw.

Most patients wear a palatal expander for 6 – 12 months. At the end of that time period, their mouths should have enough space to comfortably accommodate all of their adult teeth in their upper jaw.

How Should a Palatal Expander Be Kept Clean?

Happy blond girl holding a toothbrush

Oral hygiene for a palatal expander is pretty simple. If the device is not removable, it should be cleansed with toothpaste and gentle brushing a few times each day. A water flosser could prove to be a valuable tool because it can remove plaque buildup from areas that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush.

If the appliance is removable, it should be taken out of the mouth and receive regular cleanings so it can stay fresh and odor-free.

Does a Palatal Expander Cause Pain?

Preteen boy, standing outside and smiling

We want our patients to be as comfortable as possible throughout treatment. However, the nature of orthodontic treatment requires that pressure be placed on the oral structures. This can cause some soreness. A palatal expander may be particularly uncomfortable when it is first placed, as well as when it is adjusted. We will provide helpful tips to minimize the pain your child experiences during their treatment.