The Benefits to Your Child

One of the most common orthodontic appliances used in young children here at Virginia Orthodontic Partners is the palatal expander. Palatal or maxillary expanders perform several functions that make expanding the upper jaw particularly helpful during childhood.

palatal expansion What Is Palatal Expansion?

Palatal expansion widens the upper jaw, or palate, to produce a correct bite, easier breathing and ultimately straighter teeth. Palate width may require correction while your child is young — as early as five, six, or seven years old — to accommodate the development of all his or her teeth while opening up nasal passages.

The Benefits of Palatal Expansion

For children with thumb-sucking or pacifier dependence, palate expanders can end the habit. Some of the benefits of palatal expansion include:

  • Crossbite correction – In a pediatric patient with a narrow palate, the upper teeth can bite inside the lower teeth on one side or both, which could cause eventual lower-jaw displacement.
  • Eliminates or reduces overcrowding – Palatal expansion can enable your child’s upper teeth to erupt in their correct positions.
  • Improves breathing – A narrow or deep jaw makes it difficult for a child to breathe through his nose, which results in continuous mouth breathing, known to be detrimental to dental health.

Who Needs Palatal Expansion and How Does It Work?

Early orthodontic treatment is useful when an orthodontist determines the dental arches and jaws are misaligned. Functional appliances, such as the palatal expander, can help fix these issues. 

  • Once evaluated and diagnosed, your child will most likely be fitted with a rapid palatal expander, a plastic and metal device that is attached to the upper molars either by bonding or the use of cemented bands. 
  • As a parent, you will receive a special key that enables you to make minute adjustments to the expansion device on a daily basis. Following your orthodontist’s instructions is critical for a successful treatment. 
  • The expansion device can cause some minor discomfort during an expansion (the initial 14-21 days) but can be treated with a pediatric OTC analgesic well-tolerated by your child. 
  • After expansion, the expansion device stays in place for six months to solidify the expansion and to prevent regression. 
  • The only at-home maintenance necessary consists of your child’s brushing the middle and sides of the expansion device when he brushes his teeth and making sure to avoid sticky or hard foods such as candy.

How We Can Help

If your child is at least seven and has several erupted permanent teeth, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends going to the orthodontist. This visit is a complimentary consultation and our specialist will guide you and help you determine the next steps to ensure a straight healthy smile. 

If you are interested in orthodontic treatment of any kind, Virginia Orthodontic Partners believes a confident smile is a happy smile. Contact us today online or call (703) 750-9393