Has your dentist been bringing up the possibility of dental expanders as a solution for your or your child’s smile? You’re probably wondering what this entails, and if it’s the right answer to your problem.

At ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics in Happy Valley, Clackamas, Oregon, orthodontist Dr. Gary Chapman can use expanders to resolve a variety of dental issues. Here’s what he wants you to know.

Dental expander basics

Palate expanders attach to the molars like traditional braces do, but rather than move teeth, they exert gentle pressure on the bones of the upper jaw. This “stretches” the bone and causes many tiny microfissures that fill with new bone produced by your body. 

Dental expanders can be used by adults who have crowded teeth or other issues caused by a narrow palate, as well as by children whose mouths are still growing and who haven’t gotten all of their adult teeth yet.

Five dental problems expanders can address

A palate expander widens the upper jaw, helping to address the following issues:

1. Narrow palate

A palate that’s narrow can cause an unattractive, small-mouthed smile. Upper palate expanders widen the smile for a more pleasing appearance. For children, using expanders as adult teeth come in can help form a great smile from the start.

2. Crowded or overlapping teeth

narrow palate can cause incoming teeth to crowd, overlap, or angle inward or outward. Expanders help resolve crossbite and overbite, and braces can be used after the expanders do their work to nudge teeth into an attractive arch.

3. TMJ symptoms

An overly narrow palate can cause extra stress on the bones of the jaw, particularly where they meet in the hinge known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). People with TMJ issues often feel their jaw click, pop, grind, or even lock in an open or closed position. Expanders can often relieve or prevent these TMJ symptoms.

4. Sinus congestion

People with a narrow palate often suffer chronic congestion due to their airway being crowded. Using expanders to widen the upper palate can provide relief, and cut down on congestion and sinus complaints.

5. Sleep apnea

In many cases, those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are found to have a narrow palate and compromised airway. A palate expander widens the airway and may be the solution for OSA.

Interested in learning more? Dr. Chapman can explain your options. To schedule a consultation, call 503-336-1883, or request an appointment online

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