Palatal Expanders
in Eastern Missouri

Palatal Expander Device

An expander is one of the most common orthodontic appliances used for treatment on growing children or adults who are experiencing crowding and cross bites. These appliances look intimidating and tend to scare patients and parents alike. But have no fear! Expanders are perfectly safe, painless, and will start you or your child on the way to a healthy and beautiful smile.

When the expander is first placed, there may be some slight discomfort, but this occurs because the teeth have never experienced a similar sensation. Patients report that they feel pressure on the teeth, in the roof of the mouth, behind the nose, and even between the eyes as their expander is activated, but the pressure will quickly subside.

Besides the initial pressure, there may also be difficulty speaking clearly the first few days. To adjust to this new orthodontic device, you may want to find some easy foods for you or your child that don’t require a lot of chewing such as yogurt, soup, or ice cream. A day or two after the expander is put in place, normal eating may resume.

Typically this treatment lasts four to five months, providing a way to correct the bite without surgery or more invasive measures.

Frequently Asked Questions - Palatal Expanders

Is a palatal expander permanent?

A palatal expander is semi-permanent, meaning that it is glued in place for the duration of necessary treatment time; only to be removed by your orthodontist when the final result has been achieved. Typically the expansion portion is attached to metal bands that are custom fit and placed around your teeth.

Is a palatal expander visible?

Because it attaches to the back teeth and sits against the roof of your mouth, a palatal expander is not highly visible. Others may only be able to see it when you smile really big, yawn, or laugh.

How long does treatment take with a palatal expander?

Treatment with a palatal expander averages around 4-9 months, but it can take longer to get the desired results. We can give you an estimate of the treatment time at the start, but bear in mind that it may change along the way as we see how the jaw responds.

Does a palatal expander hurt?

After the appliance is first put in place, the patient may feel some mild discomfort. It is usually described as a tight feeling more than painful. As the mouth adjusts and the tissues loosen up, the tight feeling should dissipate. If the appliance causes irritation to the soft tissues of the mouth, orthodontic wax can be used to provide relief.

Will braces still be needed after palatal expander treatment?

It is possible that additional orthodontic treatment will be required. A palatal expander is often used in phase one of orthodontic treatment, known as the early intervention phase. Braces or another teeth aligning system may be needed later in adolescence.  On some occasions treatment can be wrapped up with a finishing retainer.