Also known as a rapid maxillary expansion appliance, a plate expander is used to widen the jaw so that the upper and lower teeth will fit together properly. Usually, orthodontists place palate expanders in the mouths of young patients who need their arches to open more fully. After a palate expander, your child will probably need braces. Learning more about palate expanders will help you answer questions and reassure your child.
How long will my child have the expander?
Typically, patients wear these appliances for four to six month. The time frame usually includes the expansion process and a stabilization period.
How does the expander work?
The device has a center screw that functions in a similar manner as a car jack. When you turn the screw, the expander and the upper arch widen.
Will the expander hurt?
While your child may experience some initial discomfort during the placement, using the expander shouldn’t hurt. Chewing, swallowing, and talking may be awkward while your child gets used to the appliance. If your child feels pain when you turn the screw, contact your orthodontist right away.
How often do we adjust the expander?
Normally, you will turn the screw once every other day. Your orthodontist will provide specific instructions on when and how often you should make modifications.
How does my child care for the expander?
Because the expander is cemented in the mouth, your child can’t remove it during treatment. For optimal care, your child should brush the expander and his or her teeth after each meal. You may want to encouraging rinsing afterwards to remove any stubborn food particles.