Upper jaw expanders stretch the bone and cartilage of the palate to correct common orthodontic issues like crowding and crossbites. Successful palatal expansion treatment is usually done before a child’s growth plate or midpalatal suture fuses – up until the age of 16.
Much like a palate expander, an upper jaw expander can have a significant impact on the width of the upper jaw, which can guide the upper and lower teeth properly fit against each other. A narrow upper jaw can interfere with the function of the teeth, and further affect your child’s appearance, smile, biting, chewing, and speech. For interceptive orthodontics patients (young children and adults), an upper jaw expander may prevent the need for permanent teeth extraction due to crowded teeth.
Orthodontic expanders are traditionally attached to the molars with metal rings, but they can be removable. Expansion screws are built into the appliance, and when activated, slowly separate and stretch the soft cartilage of the palate over the course of several weeks or months.
Until the expander feels natural, serve foods that don’t require a lot of chewing, such as ice cream, pudding, or mashed potatoes. Encourage your child to stay away from sticky foods and candy that may get stuck against their orthodontic appliances.