Ask the Orthodontist: The Palatal Expander

Question: Does my child need a palatal expansion, and what exactly is that anyway? Answer from Dr. Jason Aleman with Aleman & Sternstein Orthodontics: The process of palatal expansion (PE) is a common way to orthopedically widen the bones of the upper jaw. The palatal expander works by slowly separating and widening the two parts of the upper jaw. This process is best done at an early age, between 7 and 11 years old. This allows the palate to widen, establishing proper jaw width and helps make room for tooth eruption.
  • Perhaps the greatest benefit of PE is that it allows the orthodontist to give you a better bite. Left untreated, a narrow (constricted) upper jaw often results in a poor fit of back teeth (crossbite) which can cause asymmetrical facial growth.
  • Using a palatal expander can also make a little more room for crowded teeth. In some cases, this increase in arch length results in a wider better looking smile.
  • Patients with narrow upper jaws often also exhibit nasal airway constriction. Widening of the upper jaw increases the width of nasal air passages.
Most patients experience temporary pressure from the adjustment of the mechanism which causes the expansion. This sensation typically lessens in about five minutes. The beneficial aspects of PE for patients needing the extra jaw width makes this procedure an integral part of an orthodontist’s ability to deliver a healthy and beautiful smile. Alemen Sternstein feb 2016 Submitted by Springfield Moms premium sponsor Aleman & Sternstein Orthodontics. For more information on their orthodontic practice and a coupon for a free consult (worth $35), visit our Mom's Choice Directory.        

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