A palate expander is a device is used to quickly and gently widen an upper jaw that is too narrow.
How does a Palate Expander work?
The upper jaw is made up of two bones that meet in the middle. In growing patients, the area where the two bones meet, called a suture, is still soft and not yet fused. A palate expander is attached to back teeth and is turned at home to quickly and gently widen the jaw over a matter of weeks.
Does It hurt?
Placing the palate expander does not hurt. Your mouth may be tender for the first few days after receiving your palatal expander. This is normal and should disappear within a week. Rinsing with warm salt water will help take away the tenderness. Pain relievers may be given as needed.
How do you activate a palate expander?
Activation is done with the key provided. Insert the key into the hole and push to the back of the mouth. You will see the next hole when the turn is complete. Turn with the key as many days as instructed and return to the office at the end of turning for a check-up. If you miss a day of turns, do not add those turns to the next day, but add another day of turns. If you “cannot find the hole”, you are in between turns. You must now find the hole towards the back of the appliance and complete the entire turn to find the hole again. Now you will be able to turn correctly. If you cannot do this, please call our office and we will be happy to help you with the turns.
Once the activation is complete, the expander remains in place for approximately 6 months before it can be removed.
What should I expect in the beginning with a palate expander?
Reading out loud will help you get used to your new appliance. Speech will return to normal within a week to ten days. Words to practice are “CHURCH”, “MISSISSIPPI”, and “SIXTY-SIX”.
For the first few days, soft foods will be best to eat. Food should be cut into small pieces. Gummy, Sticky, and Chewy foods are OFF LIMITS. These foods can loosen the bands.
A space will open between the two front teeth. It is desirable because it means the expander is working properly. This space may be small, or may be as large as another tooth. The space is only temporary and will close before the end of treatment.
Do not play with the appliance with your fingers or tongue. This can cause breakage. If a band comes loose or a wire gets bent, please call our office.
How do I clean my palate expander?
Brush and floss your teeth as usual with a soft bristled tooth brush. Be sure to brush all parts of your palate expander. Using a water-pik can be helpful to “power-wash” food particles away from the palate expander.
What are the rules with a Palate Expander?
As with all kinds of braces, patients with Palate Expanders need to be careful about what they eat. Sticky foods such as caramels, bubble gum and taffy will pull that appliance away from the teeth. So please stay away from these foods during your orthodontic treatment.