Dental palate expanders

Braces aren't the only options for children and pre-teens with orthodontic needs.

At Langford Orthodontics, we have extensive experience with braces, retainers, dental palate expanders and other orthodontic solutions. Visit our offices in Knoxville or Seymour, TN, and we’ll help find the right option for your healthy smile.

What is a dental expander?

A dental expander is one option that can help correct different alignment issues, including narrow upper jaws. It takes advantage of the fact that children and pre-teens have a soft spot on the roof of their mouths called the mid-palatal suture. An orthodontic expander can expand this soft spot until puberty.

While dental expanders are sometimes known as expander braces, they’re not braces. Expanders are placed on the roof of the mouth and connected to the back upper molars. They gradually push apart the left and right sides of the palate, which do not fuse until after puberty.

There are two options for expanders — fixed and removable. Removable expanders work similarly to a retainer. Most orthodontists recommend a fixed upper jaw expander, which is attached to the molars because this option ensures the expander is worn enough to be effective.

Do dental expanders hurt?

For younger patients, dental expanders are relatively painless because the palate is still soft enough to be manipulated without pain. When the expander is tightened, children may feel a slight pressure in their mouth.

For patients whose palate has already fused, the process may include discomfort. An orthodontist might suggest pain management methods, surgery or another option instead of an expander.

What issues can a palate expander fix?

A palate expander can help with a few issues, including:

  • A narrow upper jaw that does not align correctly with the lower jaw.
  • Crowding.
  • A too-small upper jaw, which leads to poor alignment.
  • Crossbites.
  • Impacted teeth, especially impacted canine teeth.
  • Correcting a narrow or gummy smile.
  • Improving the balance and appearance of the face and smile.

Many of these issues are caused by a narrow or small upper jaw, which might not match the lower jaw. Expanders are one tool that can help orthodontists address these issues so you can enjoy a brighter and healthier smile.

Many patients like the idea of a palate expander because they can avoid more invasive treatments while still enjoying great results. Your orthodontist will help you determine whether an upper jaw expander is right for you.

Caring for your expander

You can take out a removable expander for cleaning twice a day after eating. If you have a fixed expander, brush the expander after eating or twice a day. Rinsing after meals using water or mouthwash can also remove food and keep the device clean.

Why choose Langford Orthodontics?

Langford Orthodontics has a team of dedicated and experienced orthodontic professionals who are ready to help. We offer a range of treatments and custom solutions based on your needs. We always treat you with compassion and care to make your experience a positive one.

Our convenient offices in Knoxville and Seymour, TN, are here to serve, so contact Langford Orthodontics for a free consult today if you’re considering palate expanders, need an accurate diagnosis for an orthodontic issue or want help getting a healthy smile.