Palatal expanders widen the upper jaw by splitting the mid-palatal suture, facilitating better teeth alignment and jaw function. This orthodontic treatment is most effective in children and teens and can significantly improve oral function and aesthetics.

Palatal Expansion in Montvale, NJ

Palatal expansion is a combination of tooth movement and jaw expansion. It works by widening the two halves of the upper jaw, known as the palate. These halves are joined together by a “suture” in the middle of the roof of the mouth. Palatal expanders are tailored to fit each patient’s unique mouth. An expander can be either fixed (bonded to the mouth) or removable. It attaches to the upper back teeth and gradually widens the suture, making the upper jaw wider. As the jaw expands, new bone fills between the two halves of the palate in distraction osteogenesis. The duration of expansion can vary from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the amount of expansion required for the individual patient.

A rapid palatal expander (RPE), or a rapid maxillary expander (RME), is typically worn for four to six months. During the initial weeks of use, activating the appliance by expanding it using a special key is necessary. Dr. Oh will provide detailed instructions on properly operating and activating the appliance to achieve the desired results.

Making the Upper Jaw Wider

A narrow upper jaw can affect the function and fit of upper and lower teeth, which may impact your child’s appearance and cause difficulties with biting, chewing, and speech.

Using a palatal expansion appliance can effectively increase the width of the upper jaw. This widening promotes proper fitting of the upper and lower teeth, allowing the teeth and jaws to function well and contribute to a broader, more attractive smile.

kid's mouth with missing teeth

  • How do I know palatal expansion is right for my child?

    Dr. Oh is the best person to advise whether your child needs palatal expansion and which type of expansion appliance is best for correcting your child’s issue. Palatal expansion is easiest and most effective for a growing child or teenager. It improves how the upper and lower jaws and teeth work together by widening the jaw to create enough room for permanent teeth. This can result in a broader and more attractive smile. If left untreated, a narrow palate can lead to excessive dental work as an adult, and depending on the specific issue, permanent teeth may not have enough space to come in, or the lower jaw could grow out of proportion, requiring corrective surgery as an adult.

  • What is the best age for palatal expansion?

    Age alone is not the best predictor when a palatal expansion appliance should be used. Dr. Oh will make the assessment for you or your child if a traditional expander would be the best choice. If it is past the timing for traditional expander, Dr. Oh might suggest Micro-Implant Assisted Rapid Expander (MARPE) or Surgically-Assisted Rapid Palatal Expander (SARPE).

  • What can I expect?

    It might take a few days to adjust to a palatal expander. Initially, you may experience difficulty with chewing, swallowing, and talking. You may also feel soreness or tingling in the mouth and nose, and some patients may notice a slight headache. If you experience discomfort, talk to your orthodontist about using over-the-counter pain relievers to help alleviate it.

    Even after a few days of using the appliance, you might see gaps between your front teeth. This indicates that the expander is working and your palate is expanding.

    After the initial expansion, most patients will require full orthodontic treatment, such as braces.

    Learn More About Braces

More Questions?

If you think that you or your child may be a candidate for a palatal expander, contact Montvale Orthodontics today for a consultation.

Montvale Orthodontics

305 W Grand Ave, Suite 600
Montvale, NJ 07645
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