Your expander is in, and things will start moving soon! The palatal expander is used to widen your upper jaw, create room for crowded teeth, improve airway and breathing, and help your back teeth fit together.
WHAT IS IT FOR?
An upper palatal expander is a common and efficient way to widen a narrow upper jaw. Whether the narrow palate was caused by an airway problem, tongue posture, thumbsucking, or genetics, an expander will help the upper jaw grow to the appropriate width by slowly widening the suture on the roof of the mouth. This allows for the permanent teeth to erupt safely, relieve crowding, create a wider and more beautiful smile, and match the upper teeth to the lower teeth. Palatal expanders can also be used in adults as an alternative to upper jaw surgery to widen a narrow jaw.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
An upper expander is glued to the back teeth and is gently activated at home (don’t worry, we will teach you how to do it!). The mid-palatal suture is gently opened to allow for a wider palate, larger nasal airway, and more space for the teeth to fit in. For functional and esthetic reasons, Dr. Soleil uses palatal expanders on many of her young patients. If you are a candidate for adult palatal expansion, Dr. Soleil will describe this treatment option at your initial exam.
Here are some things to remember about your expander:
HOW TO TURN THE SCREW:
- Have your child lay on their back on the bed or sofa (make sure you have good lighting)
- Have your child lift their chin up high and open their mouth as wide as possible
- Insert the key carefully into the center hole and gently turn the expander screw by pushing the key from front towards the back of their mouth until you can’t push anymore AND you see the next hold appear
- Carefully remove the key by wiggling it in a down-and-back direction (be careful not to rewind the turn you just made)
- Turn your expander once per day, unless otherwise instructed
Loose parts – If you or your child notice that the expander is loose, please STOP turning and contact our office to let us know.
What to expect with your expander:
- Temporary lisp or change in speech for 5-7 days
- Excess saliva and difficulty chewing/swallowing for 1-2 days
- Slight pressure on the teeth, roof of mouth, and nose when turning
- Temporary irritation of the tongue
- Space opening between the upper front teeth – this is a good sign that the suture is opening!
- The bite may feel “off”
- The expander will be left in place for approximately 6 months after turning in complete to prevent relapse and allow time for healing. Partial braces may be placed during this time to begin aligning the teeth.