Palate Expander - How Does It Work, Risks and Prevention

Palate Expander – 5 Reasons You Need and How It Works

A palate expander, or an orthodontic or palatable expander, widens the gap between the upper jaw. It is placed in the roof of the mouth, where it gradually moves apart both halves of the upper jaw. These are mostly recommended for pre-adolescent children but can be used in adults.

Baby Boy with Palatal Expander Preparing for Adjustment

You might need to wear the orthodontic expander for months or years according to the severity of the condition and age. 

There are various types of palatal expanders; some are fixed, and others are removable. Removable solutions for adults are best in cases where a slight expansion is desired.

The cost of a palate expander varies according to the expander type and the person’s age. You might feel pressure and stress while wearing a palate expander, but it does not hurt you. 

Do you know how to adjust it? The following section will help you find out. 

Read: How To Treat Messed-Up Or Crooked Teeth?

How Does It Work?

A palatal expander is customized for each individual. It is a device consisting of two halves that are connected using a screw and attached to the back teeth at the top.

Winding the screw creates a tension that moves the palatal bones apart, creating space between the jaw.

Close-up of orthodontic treatment showing a metallic arch wire palatal expander inside a patient's mouth.

When the desired gap is created, leave the device in its place for some months so that new bone is formed and stabilized. 

If the palatal expander needs manual adjustment, your orthodontist will provide instructions on how and when to adjust the expander.

Although it makes you nervous, rotating the screw is not much difficult. According to NCBI, a palate expander causes discomfort due to the heavy forces used. 

Let’s find out who may need this solution. 

Read: Teeth Space Maintainers: Your Child’s Smile’s Best Friend

5 Reasons Why You Need Palate Expander

It gradually widens the roof of the mouth and can be used in many dental conditions. Your dental surgeon might suggest it if you have the following dental conditions.

Also, widening the jaw gives you a beautiful smile and improves swallowing and breathing.

1- Crossbite

When the gap between the upper jaw is less than the lower jaw, the upper molar teeth grip inside the lower teeth instead of outside.

Crossbite is a dental malformation that, if left untreated, can lead to tooth decay, pain, and difficulty breathing during breath. It expands the upper jaw so that the upper back teeth fit in line with the lower teeth.

2- Crowded teeth

A child’s teeth might be overcrowded, and there is no space for the newly growing teeth. A narrow jaw results in misalignment of teeth. The palatal expander creates sufficient space for the new teeth to grow. 

3- Impacted teeth

Sometimes, a tooth finds no space to erupt from the jaw as other teeth block it, known as an impacted tooth. Such teeth remain stuck in the gum tissue because the jaw is narrow and there is insufficient space. Expanding the jaw provides adequate space for teeth to grow.

4- Overlapping teeth

Overlapped teeth or teeth aligned in front of adjacent teeth on the same dental arch may also need adjusting. 

5- Difficulty chewing

Misaligned teeth can also cause trouble while chewing food. Doctors often suggest it to align them.

Read: What Is Snaggletooth, Its Causes, Challenges, And Treatment Options

How Long Should You Wear A Palate Expander?

The jaw bones become firm when puberty has been achieved. The most suitable time to wear it is before puberty because the jaw bones are still growing.

In children, the desired expansion is achieved within 2-3 months, and one should wear them for a further 4-6 months to allow bone growth and stability. 

It might take adults a year or longer to get the required gap. Also, increasing the gap between jaws with an orthodontic device might be difficult once the bones fuse.

In such cases, your orthodontist might surgically place it in your oral cavity. People often get scared when they hear about its adjusting and often ask:

Does a plate expander cause facial changes?

It broadens the upper jaw but does not cause significant facial changes. It might positively impact the nose as it widens the nasal cavity and improves breathing.

How long do you have to wear it?

It is important to wear it until new bone forms in the space and is stabilized. Generally, one should wear it for a year or more.

Risks Associated With Palate Expander

You might feel discomfort, headache, drooling, or lisping initially. These are mild and temporary side effects that subside with time.

Another common side effect is space formation between the two front teeth. However, this gap might close with time, or you might need braces. 

Also, you might observe facial changes using a palatal expander; your face might become more square.

Other risks of wearing a fixed solution are damaged teeth, swollen gums, persistent pain, and dislocation of teeth in adults. Sometimes, it is also associated with changes in speech.

Tips to Prevent Gum Damage While Wearing Palate Expander

Wearing this solution is potentially safe and does not hurt, but it requires some preventive measures.

You must maintain oral hygiene to avoid infection and debris in your mouth. Plaque formation leads to gum swelling, making it hard to adjust.

Regularly brush and floss your teeth when you are wearing a palatal expander.

Take soft foods for the first few days after putting on them. Avoid foods that break into numerous smaller particles because these might stick to the orthodontic expander. Also, avoid chewing hard foods or other objects.

The Bottom Line

Palate Expanders help create necessary space in the roof of your mouth so that it is easy to perform a dental procedure.

Although it is not compulsory to wear a palatal expander, it offers many benefits. It helps provide sufficient space for the teeth to grow and align. Above all, it gives you a beautiful smile with perfectly aligned teeth.

You can book your appointment and consult with the best orthodontists if you are looking for reliable dental services. 


What age is too late for a palate expander?

The ideal age is between 5 to 16 years. Adults up to 25-30 years old might use it without guaranteeing complete success.

Do palatal expanders make it difficult to chew?

One might initially face problems chewing food for a day or two. However, it takes a week to get used to it.

Is a palate expander necessary?

It is not compulsory to wear it, but it offers more advantages than risks.

Can you wear braces with a palatal expander?

It has the advantage that it is compatible with other orthodontic device, including braces.

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