palatal expander

Palatal expander – when to use it?

espansione del palato

Words such as palatal expander, palatal expansion, activations,  and narrow palate, sound complicated to you? 
Today we speak in a simple way about one of the most used fixed orthodontic devices for palatal expansion.

When do we talk about palatal expander and palatal expansion? 

There are some specific cases in which we talk about the palatal expander. Sometimes, in fact, the palate, instead of acting as a “lid” for lower arch teeth, is altered.
For example, when it slightly sticks outwards in the lateral and front direction and becomes narrower on both sides. Sometimes when it is asymmetrical or when it has a V shape which presses on lower teeth.
Pretend to put a really small lid on top of a box.
If the palate does not develop correctly, it may be necessary to rebalance the closing of the arches by expanding it.

Let’s take a step back and understand how the palate works. 

When we are born, the upper jaw is made up of two bone halves in contact in the center of the palate with a suture: the so-called “median palatine suture” which can grow until it increases the width of the bone.

During development, up to about 16 years of age, this palatine suture grows influenced by various factors.
For example:

  • the thrust exercised by tongue,
  • cheeks and lips,
  • the type of swallowing,
  • the stimulus of nasal breathing,
  • bad habits like sucking the pacifier or the thumb,
  • all acting in combination with hereditary factors.
    These conditions can affect the development of bone bases giving rise to a malocclusion, caused by the wrong tooth and bone position or even both with a possible deficit of the upper jaw.
When can we understand if the palate is not developing properly?

For any doubts, it is always better to consult a specialist who will also be able to visit very young children, as a narrow palate can be diagnosed early.
However, in some evident cases, it is possible for example to observe some signals. These include: an upper arch narrowed laterally, incisors which protrude too much or too little, incisors which do not have enough space to regularly erupt.

In such cases we have to widen the palate to give harmony to its proportions compared to those of the jaw and make space for incisors to correctly erupt.

How do we obtain the palatal expansion with the palatal expander? 

It is important that the diagnosis of the orthodontist and its subsequent intervention take place early, that is when the palate’s growth phase has not yet completed.
In this way, the orthodontist will be able to modify the occlusal situation by improving the position of bones and teeth.
At this point, the specialist will decide the best way to expand the palate, based on the patient’s age, his development stage, the dental permutation and the mouth health conditions.

The selected orthodontic device is the rapid palatal expander: an appliance which is fixed to the baby or permanent molars.
It has a central screw which must be turned with a special “key” during the active phase.
The patient is checked by the specialist every 7-14 days
The activation usually lasts a few weeks, while the expander is worn for a few months (from 6 to 9 approximately, depending on the case), so as to stabilize the results obtained.

Do you have any doubts, or would you like to fix an appointment with our expert orthodontist and visit our center?
Call our secretary office or fill out the form and our team will contact you to make an appointment.