The Right Time for a Palatal Expander

Every child is different. Their baby teeth erupt and are lost at different times. Some children have all adult teeth by age 10, others take longer. What matters first, though, is whether there is enough room for their teeth, now and later. If space needs to be made, a palatal expander may be necessary.

What Is a Palatal Expander?

Part of phase one orthodontics, a palatal expander is attached to the back upper molars and adjusted daily with a “key” to slowly widen the palate. By moving the expander, more mouth space is created and problems like crowding, narrow bites, and crossbites begin to be corrected.

How Long Does the Expander Process Take?

After the expander work is complete, the appliance stays in place and brackets are attached to several front teeth to close the gap created by the expander. After about nine months, all hardware is removed, a retainer is issued, and it’s time to wait for all adult teeth to show up so phase two – full braces – can begin.

When Should My Child Get an Expander?

The best time for your child to get an expander is when your orthodontist makes the recommendation. Aim to visit an orthodontist for an evaluation around age 8. Your child may have only lost a handful of baby teeth at this point, but the time is right because at this age the palate is still malleable.

Does an Expander Eliminate the Need for Braces?

Getting an expander early takes advantage of your child’s still-developing mouth and helps your orthodontist design a plan that will result in a strong, healthy beautiful smile. Some kids might be fortunate enough to have enough space created that, later, they won’t need a full course of braces at all. This is not common, but the expander makes full braces or Invisalign Teen far easier to manage.

Is An Expander Really Necessary?

Even though your child’s teeth might look just fine, even if you feel like they have plenty of room for adult teeth to erupt, your orthodontist has far more intel into what’s going on in their mouth. X-rays show what’s really going on with alignment, jaw development, and crowding. When many teeth have yet to appear, there could be plenty happening under the gum line that could negatively affect alignment and make orthodontics far more complicated in the teen years.

What Happens If My Child Doesn’t Get an Expander?

If you opt not to address bite problems with phase one orthodontics, your child can develop painful and unsightly dentition, have trouble chewing and speaking, and eventually need advanced and lengthy dental work. A six- to nine-month expander is a much easier option to endure and sets your child up for success with later orthodontics.

Get the Scoop on Your Child’s Teeth from Soleil Orthodontics

Does your child suck their thumb? Do they have an overbite? Are their teeth crowded? Obvious problems are easy to diagnosis, but even if nothing seems wrong, it’s smart to schedule a consultation with Dr. Soleil at Soleil Orthodontics in Woodinville, WA, to find out whether an expander is needed.

Study Club Registration