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Palatal Expanders

The Expander is for patients whose upper jaw is narrow. It gently widens the upper arch (palate) by stretching the center palatal connective suture. Once widened, the suture knits together. The Expander is prescribed only prior to completion of growth. A parent or the patient adjusts the Expander daily as instructed, until the palate has been widened enough. It is then left in place for about four months without further adjustment while new bone fills the center palatal suture or healing occurs.

Before the Expander feels comfortable, you may sense some initial pressure and feel

  • A tingling or itch under the appliance.
  • A tingling sensation across the bridge of the nose.
  • Pressure in the cheek area.
  • You can also expect to see a space appear between your upper two front teeth.

A special key is used to activate the Expander, as follows

  • Loop the string on the key around your finger or wrist to prevent it from being swallowed.
  • Insert the key in its slot; it will not touch the roof of your mouth.
  • Push the key all the way from front to back.
  • Turn as you have been instructed.
  • Remove the key.

Cool water, toothpaste and a toothbrush are needed to clean your appliance. If it is cemented in, brush it as you would your teeth, paying attention to the bands that hold it in. Brush gently along the gum line to remove the plaque. If your appliance is like a retainer, take it out of your mouth and brush it with the same brush and toothpaste you use on your teeth. Plaque sticks to plastic better than it does to teeth, so extra brushing is important, especially where the wires join the plastic. Brush often, at least three times a day for two minutes each time.