What Is a Palate Expander?

What Is a Palate Expander?

A palate expander is a device that opens the roof of the palate to make extra space in your child’s mouth. This technique may be scary for both the child and the parent, but it is common in orthodontics. Do palate expanders help? How does it work? Will it hurt? We’ll address your concerns and provide further details about the procedure.

An Expander

If there is a crossbite between the two arches, or not enough space for permanent teeth to erupt properly, a palate expander is used. It works best for kids and preteens because their bones are still growing. To put it another way, the sutures in children’s expanding palates are not fully united. This allows for more flexibility and, inevitably, more room. An expander is a plate bonded to the roof of the mouth. A key is used to help make the change.

The expander may be used in conjunction with braces or as the sole therapy for your child.

What Are Expanders?

To obtain the desired look, expanders are  cemented or bonded to several upper molar teeth. It has two sides linked in the middle by a screw spun by a key. Your child’s orthodontist may instruct you to turn the key once or twice daily. This may sound scary, but it just utilizes light pressure. It will gradually shift the roof of the mouth bones to make more room.

After this phase of treatment, the orthodontist will leave the expander in place for months. It allows the expansion to settle. The British Orthodontic Society says this takes three to nine months. After this, the orthodontist will remove the expander.


Expanders may feel strange at first, but your child will adjust. Short-term drooling and lisping are common. Immediately after installation, your child’s front teeth may gape. This is normal and signals the process is working. Braces will close the gap. Because the palate expander moves the bone, your child may feel pressure under the eyes or on the tip of the nose. Any pain or discomfort can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication.

Cleaning and Upkeep

The expander is easy to clean. Encourage your child to brush three times every day (after each time they eat if possible). For stubborn food particles, use a syringe loaded with water to remove them. Unsure if your child should avoid certain foods?  Try to prevent your child from chewing on ice, nuts, or sticky items. Also, have them avoid chewing on pencils or other anything that could entangle or damage the expander.

Using an expander to increase your child’s palate will aid you in the future. It’s an important part of orthodontics. Encourage your child to maintain the expander. After this trip, he or she will have a lovely, healthy grin.

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