You may have just had your visit at the orthodontist, only to hear that your child has a serious space problem. And we aren’t saying that they need a bigger room or treehouse – though that may be true also! Sometimes, a child’s upper jaw is too small and results in a crossbite. This means that the lower teeth seem to close to the outside of the upper teeth, instead of meeting squarely. Additionally, a too-small upper palate may also mean that incoming permanent teeth have no room to properly erupt. To remedy the situation, Dr. Reddick may recommend the use of a palatal expander.
A palatal expander is an appliance that applies pressure on the two bones joined in the center of the palate. These bones are not permanently fused until just after puberty, so early intervention is critical. As the palatal expander applies pressure to the roof the mouth where the two bones meet, the space is increased and the body deposits more bone at the spot – widening the roof the mouth in a permanent fashion. The tension applied by the palatal expander is controlled by a special key. According to your orthodontist’s instruction, the key is used to widen the palatal expander very gradually – increasing the tension on the bones in the roof of the mouth and allowing room for new bone to grow in between.
A palatal expander can successfully correct bite problems, create room for crowded permanent teeth, and correct breathing problems, or improve a smile. So if Dr. Reddick recommends using a palatal expander, don’t panic! This neat little appliance does its work gradually and subtly. At the end of the treatment, you’ll have a smile to be proud of!