Palate expanders are extremely useful tools for preventing overcrowding and correcting bite issues. They’re designed to gently adjust a jawbone while it is still pliable to make more room in a child’s mouth for adult teeth. This process can create a shorter braces timeline or eliminate the need for braces altogether. Let’s take a closer look at how palate expanders work and what your child may experience along the way.
What Is a Palate Expander?
Palate expanders, also known as orthodontic or palatal expanders, are oral devices made to slowly expand the roof of the mouth. This creates more room in the upper jaw, which can prevent overcrowding when a child’s adult teeth come in.
Before puberty, a child’s jaws are still malleable. The bones have enough flexibility to shift to a more ideal placement. After puberty, the jaws are set in place. The only way to address overcrowding is to remove excess teeth. With a palate expander, we can make room for everything to grow in a healthy pattern.
Your child’s teeth should have gaps between them! If the adolescent teeth are butted up next to each other, there isn’t going to be enough room for all of the adult teeth. The only way for them to erupt is by turning sideways or shoving other teeth out of the way, making braces all the more necessary.
How Palate Expanders Work
There are several types of palatal expanders, but they mostly follow the same design. There are two pieces that attach to teeth in the upper jawline and connect in the center. The center connector has a keyhole, and a special key is used to shift the expander placement.
Your orthodontist will provide a schedule for palate adjustment that gradually moves the jaw into its ideal spot. Your child shouldn’t experience much discomfort during this process, but if so, it should only last a few minutes. This is much less uncomfortable than getting braces tightened.
How Palate Expanders Shorten the Braces Timeline
Because orthodontics expanders make more room in the mouth, teeth have a better chance at falling in line. Your teeth want to be in perfectly aligned arches. They will naturally follow that pattern if they have room to. Palate expanders give your child’s smile the best chance at growing in straight.
How Long Will My Child Need a Palate Expander?
Most children get a palate expander between the ages of 7 and 10, and they wear their expander for 2-6 months. However, some children may need more time than that or may need to wear an expander more than once. It all depends on how their teeth are growing in and what the end goal is.
Do Palate Expanders Prevent Braces?
Palate expanders could prevent the need for braces, but that is not a guarantee. Wearing one of these devices should limit how long your child wears braces, especially with early intervention.
Start Your Child’s Orthodontics Journey
You can work with an orthodontist long before your child needs braces. In fact, you may be able to avoid braces altogether with the right tools on hand. Clinton Dental Center offers braces prep, palate expanders, metal braces, invisible braces, and much more. We’ll customize a care plan for your child’s unique needs. Give us a call at (586) 949-5363 to schedule your orthodontics consultation.