Though not always necessary, expanding the palate is a form of preliminary orthodontic treatment that creates more space for teeth growth. For instance, when the upper jaw is too narrow (in relation to the lower jaw), the lower jawbone (mandible) begins to shift. Because the jawbone holds the lower teeth in place, any shifting within the jaw can create misalignments, not to mention other oral health problems. Therefore, by establishing balance between the upper and lower jaw, orthodontists can prevent the lower jaw from shifting. In turn, restoring the relationship between the teeth and jaw allows for greater function. Most importantly, however, teeth are in a better position to receive further orthodontic treatment.
Colgate explains the specific benefits of palatal expanders during childhood. First, widening the palate can correct a cross-bite. Ideally, upper teeth should close around the outside of lower teeth. Yet, when a palate is narrow, upper teeth might actually close inside the lower teeth. If not treated, the lower jaw will move in an asymmetrical position. Another advantage of expanding the palate is that by creating space for teeth, it eliminates issues concerning overcrowding. Finally, expanders provide benefits such as better breathing ability (through the nose), less snoring and for some, an improvement in allergy symptoms. These benefits are particularly important for one’s oral health, as continuous mouth breathing can lead to dry mouth and bad breath (halitosis).
With an understanding of the importance of expanding the palate, consider how these appliances widen the space between the palatal bones in the upper jaw. First, a palatal expander is custom-designed for each patient. It is typically bonded to the upper posterior teeth as a fixed appliance. Once intact, the patient will be instructed on how to activate or the appliance. Using a special key that is inserted into a small screw located in the middle of the expander, a patient simply turns the key for a certain number of days, as instructed by his or her orthodontist. Over time, the two palatal bones separate, and new bone tissues grow in the middle of the palate as it widens.
William R. Kincer, D.M.D., P.C. – Orthodontic Specialist
As an orthodontic specialist serving communities throughout West Cobb and Marietta, GA, William R. Kincer, D.M.D., P.C. maintains a reputation for personalized patient care and optimal results in teeth straightening. When it comes to early orthodontics, Dr. Kincer understands that there’s a specific window of time in which to expand the palate safely and efficiently.
Have you been told that your child might need orthodontic treatment? Dr. Kincer welcomes your call today!