Palatal expanders can help your child achieve their best smile.
If your child’s teeth are crowded in their mouth, or they have bites that are misaligned, their dentist may recommend a palatal expander to help achieve a beautiful smile. A palatal expander is a device that is fitted on the roof of the mouth that gently expands the upper jaw by using pressure. Some children may need a palatal expander if there isn’t enough room in their mouths to grow properly. If your child needs a this device, here is what you can expect during the process.
How does a palatal expander work?
If your child is in need of a palatal expander, you may not have an idea of what exactly it is or how it works. A palatal expander works by using pressure to expand or widen the jaw to make a better bite for the user. It consists of two pieces of metal, each of which are attached to the top molars. A screw joins the two pieces in the top center of the mouth and is gradually tightened, which applies gentle pressure to work. The top of the mouth is made of two pieces of bone, which is why the placement is important, and why this technique can be so effective in creating more width.
How long does it have to be worn?
The duration of wearing a palatal expander varies based on what sort of treatment is needed. Some patients only need to wear a palatal expander for a few weeks or months, while others may need to wear them for a year or more. Some patients might have removable palatal expanders and only have to be worn for a few hours at a time.
Is wearing a palatal expander uncomfortable?
Many parents may be concerned that having their child wear a palatal expander can be uncomfortable or cause pain. While an expander might be uncomfortable for the first day or two, or after it is tightened, a palatal expander shouldn’t cause your child any long standing pain. If your child is experiencing any discomfort, they can take an over the counter pain reliever. If the pain persists for more than a couple of days, make sure to speak with your dentist so they can make sure the expander has been placed properly.
If your child needs a palatal expander, make sure you keep the lines of communication open during the duration of the treatment. Talk to your child and learn how they feel about wearing a palatal expander. If they have concerns, be sure to listen to what they have to say and take it into consideration. Allow your child to be open and honest with how they are feeling, and make sure they ask their dentist any questions they might have about wearing an expander. Having your child be an advocate for their own care will allow them to be more independent and help them with making choices throughout their lives.
If your child is a reluctant participant, talk to them about the benefits of the treatment and focus on the end goal and how the device will help them with the particular issue they are having, such as crowded teeth, impaired breathing, or a corrected crossbite.
How does my child brush their teeth with one in their mouth?
If your child needs to wear a palatal expander, they may have concerns about how it will affect brushing their teeth. The good news is that it doesn’t affect your child’s oral health routine all that much. If your child is wearing a palatal expander, they need to be aware that plaque can hide more easily in the device, so taking the extra time to brush thoroughly will help ensure that no cavities form during treatment. If your child is unsure of how to brush their teeth with a palatal expander, they can ask our staff for a demonstration, and we can offer a few techniques to make brushing easier.
How can I help my child love their smile?
At We Make Kids Smile, your pediatric dentist in the Waldorf and Prince Fredrick areas of Maryland, we are all about helping your child love their smile and creating a good oral hygiene routine that works for them. Our offices specialize in pediatric dentistry. The benefits of regular checkups with our team include being able to spot these issues early and get your child the intervention they need to avoid costly corrections in the future. If your child is in need of a palatal expander, or even just a regular dental checkup, give us a call today to schedule an appointment!