What Does a Palate

What Does a Palate Expander Do?

Team Orthodontics

A palate expander is a device that helps to correct common orthodontic conditions in children such as crowding, impacted teeth, and malocclusion, including a crossbite. By enlarging the palate (upper jaw), orthodontists can also help children who suffer from sleep-disordered breathing (mouth breathing and snoring). In some cases, a palatal expander may also be indicated to break habits such as thumb or finger sucking.

How Does a Palatal Expander Work?

A palate expander is made from BPA-free plastic and metal, it is custom fabricated to fit snugly along the palate and attach to the upper molars. The function of a palate expander is to widen the upper jaw, by gradually separating the two halves of the jawbone. 

To accomplish this, a small “key” is provided with the device. At prescribed intervals, the key will be inserted into the palate expander to incrementally widen it.  This pressures the jaw bone to separate, enlarging the upper jaw. Over time, new bone grows in the space between the separated halves.  

The use of a palate expander can significantly reduce the length of orthodontic treatment necessary in the future. For some children, a palatal expander will be the only orthodontic treatment they will ever need. Treatment with a palate expander is typically only necessary for a few months, with most children completing treatment within six months.

Does My Child Need Early Orthodontic Intervention?

Children should see an orthodontist by the age of 7, per the American Association of Orthodontists. Seeing an orthodontist when the jaw is still growing and malleable can prevent a host of problems as the child grows up. 

By enlarging a too-small palate, the following conditions may be prevented:

  • Impacted teeth
  • Overcrowding (requiring extractions)
  • Crossbite 
  • Crooked teeth
  • Jaw Joint pain
  • Fractured teeth
  • Teeth grinding

Parents may wish to have their child seen by an orthodontist even earlier if their child exhibits any of the following symptoms:

  • Very early tooth loss
  • Delayed tooth loss
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Mouth-breathing
  • Crowded teeth
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Prolonged finger or thumb-sucking
  • Protruding jaw
  • Significantly misaligned teeth

Book Your Child’s Orthodontic Appointment in Andover, MA

Dr. Broccoli, founder of Andover Orthodontics, in Andover, MA is a Google 5-Star reviewed orthodontist treating patients of all ages. An esteemed, highly experienced orthodontist, Dr. Broccoli is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics. To book an appointment for yourself or your child, call 978-475-0450 or message us. To best accommodate busy families, Dr. Broccoli begins seeing patients at 7:30 am Mon- Thurs.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Will insurance pay for a palate expander?

All insurance policies are a bit different. If your dental insurance plan offers coverage for orthodontia, a palate expander may be partly or wholly covered. For specific coverage information, contact your insurance provider. You may be able to use Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Accounts for orthodontic care for your child. Additionally, Andover Orthodontics accepts all major credit cards and offers in-house financing.  

Will a palate expander hurt my child?

There can be some discomfort as your child adapts to the device in their mouth. They may also experience a sensation of pressure as the upper jaw is widened.  Most young patients adapt quickly to the device without significant discomfort.