Does My Child Need a Palatal Expander?

Does My Child Need a Palatal Expander?
Posted on 03/22/2016

Girl Smiling
Children in and around Plano, TX are having orthodontic treatment at earlier ages. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child have an orthodontic screening by age 7. This initial visit, including digital photos and a panoramic x-ray, is complimentary and will give you important information about your child’s present and future orthodontic needs. 

If Dr. Curry and the team at Curry Orthodontics have seen your child for an exam and have recommended that your child wear a palatal expander, you may have some questions. We hope to answer those questions and to explain why someone might need an expander and what purpose it serves.

What is a palatal expander and why is it important?

A palatal expander is an orthodontic appliance that fits in the roof of the mouth and is used to create more space in the upper jaw. If teeth are crowded or if more space is needed to allow permanent teeth to come in, we might recommend a palatal expander. 

If teeth do not have room to come in where they are supposed to, they may come in in front of other teeth, behind other teeth, or not come in at all. Sometimes they can be moved into place later but it is more difficult, more time consuming, and in some cases may make it necessary for permanent teeth to be extracted. Also, some children are self-conscious about teeth that are so obviously out of place.

Who might benefit from a palatal expander?

Your child might benefit from a palatal expander if he or she has:

  • Crowding and insufficient room for permanent teeth to come in.
  • A crossbite in the back with a narrow upper arch.
  • A crossbite in the front with a narrow upper arch.
  • An airway issue that could be improved with expansion.
  • Need for an improved jaw relationship to enhance more normal growth and development.

How long will the palatal expander be worn?

Most of our patients wear the palatal expander for a total of 6 to 8 months. After the palate has been widened for the correction needed, the expander remains to allow the bone to fill in. The palatal expander is not removable like a retainer. It stays in the mouth all the time. 

Will my child still need braces later?

Although an expander might prevent your child from needing braces later, usually this is not the case. The expander can help correct a crossbite or overcrowding, but your child may still need braces once the permanent teeth come in. The braces that come later (the second phase of treatment) are designed to give them the confidence-building, dynamic smile that will allow them to pursue whatever they choose in life!

Contact Your Local Plano, TX Orthodontist  

Have questions about expanders or about other orthodontic treatment possibilities for you or your child? We're here to help. Feel free to contact us by dialing (972) 596-2917 and a member from our team will be happy to assist you. We can't wait to hear from you and help you achieve the healthy and beautiful smile you deserve.