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Orthodontic Palatal Expander: Your Questions Answered

Posted on October 2nd, 2021 by Dr. David J. Griffin

If you find out that your child may need an orthodontic palatal expander as part of their orthodontic treatment, you both will most likely have some questions. Following is some basic information about expanders and why they’re used.

Are Palatal Expanders Necessary?

If our doctor recommends for your child to receive one, it’s most likely necessary so they can maintain straight teeth and a beautiful, healthy smile for a lifetime. A child may need one because they don’t have enough room in their mouth for future teeth that will grow in, they don’t have enough room for current adult teeth that are growing in, or they have a front or back crossbite that needs to be corrected.

The palatal expander gently widens the upper jaw and ensures that it grows correctly so the upper and lower teeth can be aligned properly.

Do Palatal Expanders Hurt?

Your child’s expander may hurt a little bit the first few days after getting it as they get used to having it in their mouth. It may also feel slightly uncomfortable to eat and speak at the beginning, but once they get used to it, there shouldn’t be any discomfort anymore. When the expander is adjusted, they may feel some pressure during and for a bit afterwards, but should start to go away after they get used to the pressure.

How Does Turning the Expander Key Work?

It’s best to have the child lay flat down or with their head back so a parent or adult can turn it for them. The key, which has a long handle for you to hold, should be placed directly in the hole of the expander, which is on the roof of their mouth. You may find it helpful to use a flashlight to see inside their mouths more clearly. The key should be turned, and as you turn it, the new hole appears. Once it has fully appeared, that means a full turn has been completed, and the key can be taken straight out.

Your child’s orthodontist will thoroughly explain to you how many times a day it should be turned.

Are There Any Food Restrictions?

It’s possible for an expander to break, so it’s vital to avoid certain foods that can cause that to happen. Any hard foods like apples, carrots, or nuts should be cut into super small pieces or avoided altogether. Your child should also avoid sticky candies or gums, as they can get stuck in the expander.

Contact Us Today

Our team is dedicated to ensuring your orthodontic journey is as comfortable, effective, and efficient as possible. If your child is starting to show signs of orthodontic issues such as a crossbite, overcrowded teeth, contact our affordable orthodontist in Oak Creek, WI to set up a consultation.

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