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What is A Palatal Expander?

Posted in Articles, Orthodontic Treatment Options

What is A Palatal Expander?

Palatal expanders widen the upper jaw (the maxilla), so that the upper teeth fit together with the bottom ones properly.


Palatal expanders are one of the most commonly used orthodontic appliances for young children. They look pretty intimidating to both children and parents at first, and the idea of having to turn the key to widen it can make some people uncomfortable, too.

But you don’t have to be worried. Palatal expanders are quite easy to use. After a few tries, you’ll be completely used to it!

What are palatal expanders for?

‘Palatal expander’ is a literal name for exactly what these orthodontic appliances do. Essentially, they expand the arch (or palate), in order make enough room for permanent teeth to grow in as they should, and not become crowded in the mouth.

This is necessary in children when the jaw growth is not keeping up with the growth of their teeth, a fairly common issue.

How does a palatal expander work?

Palatal expanders can be either removable or fixed. A palatal expander is attached to the patient’s upper arch with bands which are placed around the teeth. Or, they are attached with a plastic material that is bonded over the teeth.

At intervals prescribed by your orthodontist, the key in the expander needs to be turned, so that it widens the arch in small increments. 

Does Palatal Expansion hurt?

The expander may feel a bit uncomfortable when it is first placed. In general though, palatal expansion is doesn't cause any significant pain, aside from the occasional feeling of pressure on the teeth and the roof of the mouth.

To learn more about palatal expanders and how to use them, contact Vancouver Orthodontics today to book an appointment.

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