If you or your child has a narrow palate, an expander can help make room for new teeth, correct malocclusions, and more. At Schwartz Orthodontics in Algonquin, Illinois, Robert Schwartz, DDS, MS, creates palatal expanders for people of all ages preparing for orthodontic treatment. Expanders can help ensure that you can complete your orthodontic treatment on time without the risk of overcrowding or impacted teeth. To schedule an appointment, call Schwartz Orthodontics today.
Palatal and maxillary expanders are orthodontic devices that gradually widen the upper arch in your mouth. They make space for incoming teeth if your arch is too narrow. By slowly expanding the arch, expanders ensure that your teeth erupt as they should.
While adults can get expanders, they’re far more effective in children. The upper jaw develops as two separate halves before puberty and eventually fuses into one structure. Palatal expanders are most effective at treating orthodontic concerns before the upper jaw reaches its full maturity.
Dr. Schwartz creates custom-made expanders that fit perfectly in your upper arch. Most expanders contain stainless steel materials for enhanced durability. While the expander fits on the palate, it wraps around several of your molars to secure it in place.
In the center of the expander is a metal screw that Dr. Schwartz uses to increase the amount of pressure on the upper arch. As he adjusts the screw, the expander gently pushes the upper arch outward.
Most people wear palatal expanders for at least six months to one year. Even after the arch reaches its targeted width, Dr. Schwartz keeps the expander in place for some time to ensure the bone in your palate fuses properly. In some cases, he may remove the expander after six months and replace it with a smaller device.
When orthodontists remove expanders too early, the bone in the widened arch can regress back to its original shape and size, so it’s important for Dr. Schwartz to monitor your progress or your child’s before completing treatment.
Dr. Schwartz may recommend an expander for your child to intercept potentially serious orthodontic concerns, such as:
Overcrowding occurs when your child’s mouth doesn’t have enough room for all their permanent teeth to erupt. Failing to treat overcrowding early on can lead to several complications, including impacted teeth, crooked teeth, and malocclusion (a bad bite).
Teeth that stay trapped beneath the gum line are impacted. Oftentimes, impacted teeth don’t have enough room to erupt. That can lead to malocclusion, infection, and tooth pain without proper treatment.
Normally, the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower teeth when biting down. If your child has a crossbite, however, their lower teeth actually wrap over the upper teeth. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it also puts your child at risk of fractured teeth.
A narrow palate can interfere with your child’s ability to breathe comfortably through their nose. As a result, your child must mouth-breathe, which raises their risk of snoring, halitosis (bad breath), and poor sleep quality.
To learn more about expanders, call Schwartz Orthodontics today.