Palatal expansion is the widening of the upper jaw and is one of the orthodontic treatment procedures. This procedure is employed when there is crowding or misalignment of teeth. Earlier healthy tooth were removed to correct crowding but now with the availability of palatal expanders, that is not required.
Who Benefits from Palatal Expanders?
Palatal expanders are only for growing children. Unlike braces, which can be fitted at any age, palatal expanders are employed only for children. This is because in a growing child the midpalatal suture, also called growth plate, is open and is not closed making it possible for the upper jaw to expand. Usually the midpalatal sutures close in the age between fourteen and sixteen.
Placing a Palatal Expander in the Upper Jaw
Palatal expander is attached to the molar teeth with metal rings. The expanders have expansion screws which are activated. They act by slowly separating the palate. This separation may take place in a course of few weeks to few months. It is gradual and a slow process. As the upper palate expands, the child’s front teeth become separated and this can be observed clearly. You can notice clearly that the teeth are not tipping outward in the expansion process.
After Wearing a Palatal Expander
Your child might feel a sense of bulkiness and discomfort in the initial days of wearing a palatal expander. But this feeling is definitely short lived and your child will adjust to it in a couple of days. It may cause excess salivation in the initial days. The excess salivation can affect the speech and it should be remembered that all these phenomena are temporary. During the initial days give your child only soft food and nothing hard. Your child should avoid sticky food while the palatal expander is being worn.
Oral Care After Wearing Palatal Expander
Any orthodontic devices worn calls for greater oral care. Your dentist would let you know how to clean your palate and the teeth that have metal rings attached to the palatal expander. You may have to visit the dentist at regular intervals as suggested by the dentist. During the visit your dentist would assess the action of the palatal expander, check how your palate has responded and also check the oral condition.
The Dental Problems Corrected Using Palatal Expander
The dental problems that can be corrected using a palatal expander are
- Crowding – The condition where sufficient space is not present in the jaw for all the teeth to erupt. Palatal expander eliminates the need to extract healthy teeth in this case to get all teeth erupt in perfect alignment.
- Posterior Crossbite – When the upper teeth is too close to the lower teeth-line then sometimes the back of the upper teeth-line may bite the lower. Palatal expanders can expand the jaw without causing teeth to jut out and may now position themselves a little beyond the lower teeth -line.
- Impacted Teeth – Some permanent teeth might not emerge due to lack of space. As the palate expands, they find room to erupt.
Opinion of Dr Sravanthi on Palatal Expanders
Dr Sravanthi, a leading dentist in Chennai is of the opinion that interceptive orthodontic procedures are better in many ways. Because they correct any dental anomalies in the growing stage. Palatal expanders are one form of interceptive orthodontics and are definitely helpful for correcting oral conditions without the need to pull out any healthy teeth.