If your child has misaligned teeth, the dentist may prescribe the use of a palate expander as part of the orthodontic treatment process. Below are a few things you should know about palate expanders.
What It Is
The palate is a technical name for the roof of the mouth. The palate expander is an orthodontic device that the dentist uses to expand the palate. It consists of two side pieces connected by a middle screw.
How they Work
The dentist fits the palate expander on the upper molar teeth. The parent then has to turn the screw periodically to increase the gap between the two side pieces and expand the palate in the process. The treatment is gradual and should not be hastened. Follow the dentist's advice for maximum effectiveness minus any complications. Even after the desired size of the palate is achieved, you need to leave the expander in place for as long as the dentist advises to stabilize the new shape of the mouth. Otherwise, a little shrinking of the expanded palate might ensure.
When They Are Needed
A palate expander is necessary if a child has an orthodontic problem that is best corrected by widening the palate. Below are cases that palate expanders can help.
- Crossbite: This situation might arise if the upper jaw is narrow. The teeth then fail to come out too close to the cheek or tongue. A palate expander can widen the palate and allow the teeth to stand in their correct positions.
- Overcrowding: Overcrowded teeth are difficult to clean and prone to complications. A small upper jaw is a common cause of overcrowding of the upper teeth. Again, widening the teeth ensures they are evenly shaped.
- Teeth Impaction: Some of the teeth might not erupt properly but remain compacted in the jawbone or if the upper jaw is to narrow. Expanding the palate can allow such teeth to erupt normally.
Like other orthodontic appliances, you need to take care of the palate expander to avoid complications. As you can expect, the palate expander can trap food debris, which encourages bacteria growth. Therefore, you should help the child clean their palate expanders at least twice a day or after every meal. It also helps to avoid foods that can damage the palate expander, such as popcorn and hard nuts. Lastly, follow the instructions of the dentist to the letter and consult the dentist if something seems wrong with the expander.
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