Through a combination of tooth movement and widening of the jaw, palatal expansion is often part of preliminary treatment by orthodontists. Specifically, expansion appliances create space between the two halves of the upper jaw, or roof of the mouth. This is an important benefit because a wider jaw allows for upper and lower teeth to fit together. Thus, the function of the jaws and teeth improve. In many cases, expanders are used to prepare the teeth and jaw for braces, and even prevent the need for extraction of permanent teeth.
When an upper jaw is too narrow (in comparison to the lower jaw), interference occurs, causing the mandible (jaw bone) to shift. Expanding the palate simply re-establishes balance between the jaws to discourage this shift. While expansion will not necessarily correct the positioning of the teeth, it will certainly create more space for crowded teeth to be straightened.
In addition to balancing the relationship between the jaw and teeth, expanders have provided some patients with other benefits. For instance, some claim that breathing through the nose is easier after palatal expansion. In turn, some notice that their snoring decreases, and allergies improve.
Activating the Expander Appliance
Expanders are custom-made appliances created by orthodontists. They are essentially bonded to the upper posterior teeth. In the middle of the appliance is a small screw. Expansion (widening) happens when this screw is activated, or turned. Slowly, separation of the two palatal bones begins.
Based on the treatment plan, each patient will receive specific instructions on how and when to activate their appliance. At some point, this turning will cease, and the expander will stay in place while new bone tissues grow in the middle of the palate.
Dr. Leia Porcaro and the staff at Grateful Dental recognize that your smile has a dramatic effect on your overall appearance. Yet, we also understand that a narrow palate will not be fixed with time and growth, and will affect the overall functioning of your mouth and jaw. This is why it’s important to call us today. Dr. Porcaro’s caring and conscientious approach will put you at ease, as she customizes a treatment plan for you.