Understanding the Purpose of an Expander

When you think of straightening teeth, you may immediately think of braces. But while braces are one of the most common ways to get a straighter smile, they are not the only option. An orthodontist may recommend that you or your child get a palatal expander when you visit for a consultation. This is a term that you may not be familiar with. Here are a few of the questions that you may have and the answers. Getting answers to the questions you have will help you to better understand the purpose of an expander.

What is the Purpose of an Expander?

A palatal expander’s purpose is to widen the palate. The palate is essentially the roof of the mouth. In order for teeth to come down without overlapping other teeth or to shift into place, the palate must be wide enough to accommodate all of the teeth that you have in the mouth. If it is not, it is recommended that an expander be worn to help widen it and give overcrowded teeth room to shift to or to give incoming teeth room to come in straight and evenly.

Who Would Need to Wear an Expander?

Palatal expanders are typically used by children. This is because children’s palates are not fully formed by the time their adult teeth come in. As such, overcrowding is common. If your pediatric or family dentist feels your child may need orthodontic treatment, they may refer you for early orthodontic care. If a dentist can tell that all of your child’s teeth are not going to come in without overlapping or crowding, due to the size of the palate, they may recommend a palate expander to help their teeth come in as evenly as possible and as straight as possible.

It is important to note that palate expanders are not solely for children. While they are most often worn by children, if you have minor overcrowding in your mouth now, an orthodontist may recommend a palatal expander for you to wear as an adult. It is important to note that adults typically have to wear a palatal expander longer than children because their palate is typically harder and formed. However, the results may be well worth it.

Are There Alternatives to Expanders?

There are not currently any alternatives to expanders. If you decide not to use an expander, you can place braces on the teeth when they all fall into place. Though you or your child may need to wear them longer. Additionally, if the palate is not expanded, teeth may need to be pulled to give those teeth room they need to shift. The palatal expander helps make space for teeth to reduce the chances of teeth needing to be pulled.

Will You Need Braces If You Use a Palatal Expander?

An expander helps to clear the way for teeth to come in and minimize overcrowding and overlapping. However, this does not always mean that the teeth will come in straight or without gaps. Many people who use a palatal expander will go on to need braces. However, the positive factor to this is that those who have worn a palatal expander often require braces for a shorter period of time than those who have not. This can help you or your child to get straighter teeth faster.

At Melbourne Orthodontics, serving the greater Melbourne, Florida area, we believe that everyone deserves that have a smile that they enjoy showing off. If your teeth are not straight or have gaps in them, this can make you self-conscious. We offer many options, including traditional braces, clear ceramic braces, Invisalign and surgical orthodontics to help straighten your teeth and provide you with a smile you will want to proudly display to the world. Call us today to schedule a consultation.