As a beginning phase orthodontic treatment, palatal expanders help to ensure ideal tooth eruption, as well as proper jaw alignment and oral function in young patients. At Ashcraft Orthodontics, experienced orthodontist Dr. Michael Ashcraft utilizes these advanced appliances to widen bone tissue and cartilage in the upper jaw. This allows for the shifting of the upper teeth so that they comfortably fit over the lower teeth when biting down. With the use of a palatal expander during the early stages of orthodontic care, it can eliminate the need for a more invasive procedure to treat a narrow arch or high palatal vault. To learn more about if your child would benefit from a palatal expander, contact our Little Rock or Jacksonville, AR facility to schedule your initial consultation.
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An ideal candidate for a palatal expander would be a child that has a narrow upper arch or a crossbite (lower teeth that overlap the upper). As a way to gently stretch the palate, a palatal expander works to widen the upper jaw. When the upper arch is too narrow, it may cause issues with the eruption of permanent teeth, creating an overlapping of the lower teeth. This can then lead to issues with the function of your child's bite and can cause discomfort.
With the use of a palatal expander in a young patient, it can minimize the risk of future orthodontic concerns and it is best for patients around the ages of 14 – 16. Additionally, a palatal expander can reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease because it allows the teeth to erupt properly, making them easier to maintain through a proper oral care routine.
What to Expect
A palatal expander can be either fixed to orthodontic bands or made to be removable. For a fixed palatal expander, it will be attached to the bands that are then cemented to molar teeth. They typically contain coils, wires, resin, and other materials in order to stretch across the space near the roof of the mouth. For some patients, they may need to adjust their palatal expander with a small key in order to further stretch the palate little by little.
Since a palatal expander stretches across the upper arch, it may be susceptible to collecting food and plaque. This is why it is important for your child to maintain a proper at-home oral care routine with regular brushing and flossing to help ensure optimal oral hygiene. They should also continue to attend regular dental exams and cleanings for healthy teeth and gums.
Some patients may notice the development of a space between their front two teeth with the use of a palatal expander. This is common and can be corrected with future orthodontic appliances. When a palatal expander is recommended, your child will need to continue to attend follow-up appointments at our practice so that Dr. Ashcraft can evaluate their progress and ascertain how long the expander will need to be worn. Typically, most patients will wear their expander for about 6 – 9 months in total.
Depending on your insurance provider, a palatal expander may or may not be covered by your specific plan. Prior to creating a customized treatment plan, Dr. Ashcraft will be able to better provide an estimate for your child's orthodontic care. A member of our team will also contact your provider to determine any additional out-of-pocket costs. We can also provide you with accurate information on the payment methods our practice accepts, as well as financial planning through CareCredit®.
Professional Orthodontic Care
As a critical part of early orthodontic care, palatal expanders can be ideal for young patients in order to ensure the proper alignment of their teeth. At Ashcraft Orthodontics, Dr. Michael Ashcraft and his skilled dental team will be able to determine whether your child would benefit from a palatal expander prior to additional orthodontic treatments. Contact one of our Little Rock or Jacksonville, AR facilities to learn more or to schedule your child's initial consultation.