Palatal expanders

Various orthodontic treatments are available at our Charlottesville, Zion Crossroads, and Hollymead / 29 North offices to help correct orthodontic problems common in younger patients. A palatal expander is one of our early treatment or Phase One orthodontic treatment options.

  • What is a palate expander?

    A palatal expander – or orthodontic or palate expander – creates more space in a child’s mouth by gradually widening the upper jaw and can fix many common orthodontic issues.

    Although this may sound scary, it’s relatively easy, and kids tolerate the treatment well. That’s because the upper jaw develops as two separate halves that don’t completely fuse until sometime after puberty. Before that happens, the two bones can gently be widened and stabilized over several months. Using a palatal expander allows our Charlottesville orthodontists to take full advantage of a young patient’s natural growth process to treat or prevent malocclusions (misaligned bites).

When is a palate expander necessary?

The three situations that most commonly call for maxillary expansion are crossbite, crowding, and impacted teeth. Expanding the upper jaw has other benefits too. It can broaden the smile, limit the number of teeth that need removal to create space, and improve breathing and aesthetics.

  • How do palatal expanders work?

    Expanders work in that:

    • The expander is custom-made for each patient and fits over several top teeth in the back of the mouth.
    • The appliance has two halves connected in the middle with a screw, activated by turning the screw a small amount each day with a special key.
    • The tension created at the junction of the two palatal bones causes the bones to move apart gradually.
    • Once we achieve the desired expansion, Dr. Weis or Dr. Patel will leave the appliance in for a few more months (about 3 to 6 months) to allow new bone to form in the gap and stabilize the expansion.

  • If undergoing early orthodontic treatment with an expander, your child can expect:

    • Feeling soreness or pressure after turning the expander key.
    • Having difficulty speaking and eating as usual as they adjust to the presence of the orthodontic appliance.
    • Seeing a gap develop between the front teeth.

Get started today!

If you think your child may benefit from a palate expander to improve their crossbite, crowding, or impacted teeth, contact the family orthodontists at Charlottesville Orthodontics! Your first visit is always free. Our experts can evaluate your child’s orthodontic situation and determine the best course of treatment.