Picture of Teenager with Braces and Expander in Mouth

The Basics

A palatal expander is an appliance used to widen the palate or jaw to make room for all of your teeth. Typically, the appliance is attached to the back molars, but in some cases, it may be removable. The expander is two metal pieces joined with a special screw in the middle. By turning the screw, you increase the tension which causes the two metal pieces to move apart to slowly widen the jaw. Patients place a key in a small hole in the expander to rotate the screw every day and this gradually spreads the palate.

Why are Expanders Needed?

Expanders are used when: a patient’s upper jaw does not fit correctly with the lower jaw (crossbite), there is crowding of teeth, or when impacted teeth are blocked by teeth that have already grown in.

What to Expect

Palatal expanders are individualized for each patient to ensure the correct amount of space is created to move forward with orthodontic treatment. Widening the expander may cause some pressure and discomfort, but it is nothing to be scared of and it should only last for a short time.

Tips and Reminders

After you first get your expander, it may take a little while to get used to it. Try starting out with softer foods that don’t require a lot of chewing and stay away from sticky candy that could damage or get stuck to the expander. As always, it is important to keep up on oral hygiene as you receive orthodontic treatment. In addition to brushing and flossing, use a water flosser or syringe to flush out any food or debris that could get caught in the expander.

Have additional questions? Contact our office at  435-673-3334 for a free consultation and to see what type of orthodontic treatment is best for you and your smile!

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