Life With a Palatal Expander

At Bowen Family Orthodontics, we serve smiles in Mullica Hill and beyond. No two smiles are the same. So, each person’s journey to the smile of their dreams is different. Some might need a few adjustments. Others may require a bit more attention. Sometimes, a patient’s upper jaw needs to be a bit wider. For a task like this, Dr. Bowen might use a palatal expander. In this blog, you’ll learn about life with an expander. Let’s examine what to expect with an expander and how it works. 

When Would Dr. Bowen Recommend a Palatal Expander?

Our team only recommends treatment options that a patient needs. Therefore, we will only suggest a palate expander if it will solve the problem. We begin by scanning your upper jaw if Dr. Bowen has determined that you need a palate expander. Think of it like a blueprint of your teeth – it allows us to see the smallest contours of your mouth. Everyone’s mouth is different, so we must tailor the palate expander to be a unique fit, just for you! 

Malocclusion At A Glance

The most obvious benefit of palatal expanders is the elimination of malocclusion. Malocclusion refers to the misforming or misaligning of the teeth and/or jaw. Malocclusions can include: 

  • Open bite: the top and bottom teeth do not overlap correctly 
  • Crowded teeth: teeth are too close together, resulting in too little space
  • Overbite: the top teeth reach too far below the bottom teeth
  • Underbite: the lower jaw sets in front of the upper jaw when the mouth is closed
  • Crossbite: parts of the lower and upper teeth intersect

How Does An Expander Work?

If your palate’s right and left sides taper too much, your teeth won’t have as much room to erupt and grow. The size of your palate must be proportional to the size of your teeth. And not only that, a wide palate compliments the symmetry of your face. 

Should we determine that you need a palate expander, one of our team members will affix it to the top of your mouth. The expander exerts pressure on the palate through a key in the center of the device. Over time, the pressure eases the sides of the palate apart. As you wear the expander, the sides of your palate will gradually move into a more even, symmetrical position. 

Different Kinds of Palatal Expanders

No two mouths are exactly the same, so our team rejects the “one size fits all” approach. That’s why we offer different options for palatal expanders. Some expanders can be taken out as needed. Others remain attached until Dr. Bowen removes them. Each expander has its own advantages. Review the two options, and we’ll gladly discuss your questions. 

Fixed Palate Expander

You may hear this option referred to as the rapid palate expander (RPE). It is composed of a system of bands fastened to the molars. The bands connect at the center, which lies at the roof of the mouth. A screw in the middle holds the entire device together. Remember the key we mentioned previously? We will provide you with the key, guide you on how often to turn the mechanism for expansion, and demonstrate how to use it.

Removable Palate Expander

What about less severe jaw abnormalities? Dr. Bowen might suggest a removable option for those that might not require the more permanent fixed expander. There are a couple of types of removable palate expander, some that resemble a retainer and some that resemble a clear aligner, each with a screw in the center. We prefer that clients wear these for twenty-two hours every day. With that said, removable expanders do not necessarily extend the duration of treatment.

Caring For Your Expander

Just like you take care of your teeth, you’ll also need to take care of your palatal expander. But don’t worry; it isn’t hard. Once you work through the process a few times, you’ll see how easily it becomes part of your regular routine. You won’t have to remember a thing. 

Bowen Family Orthodontics suggests using a soft bristle brush to clean your expander. Invest in a brand of toothpaste that is not abrasive. We don’t want your toothpaste to damage or weaken the expander (yes, it happens). If your expander is damaged, it won’t work properly. Brush your expander twice daily. You might prefer to do it at the same time that you brush your teeth. 

If you prefer the water flossing method, fill a small container with warm water. Mix with mild dish soap or detergent. Allow the expander to soak for a few minutes. Then, you can either use your soft bristle brush or your finger to gently massage the expander. 

Life With a Palatal Expander

What Can Bowen Family Orthodontics Do For You?

Dr. Bowen, and our amazing Mullica Hill staff, are standing by to answer your questions about palatal expanders. Go here for your free consultation.