A narrow jaw can contribute to a host of problems, from congestion to poor sleep. If your child has a narrow palate, expanders may be necessary to create room in the upper jaw. This will also make future orthodontic treatments, like braces or clear aligners, much easier. When it comes to expanders, the earlier the intervention, the better. 

At ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics in Happy Valley, Clackamas, Oregon, orthodontist Dr. Gary Chapman can use expanders when necessary to improve your child’s future adult smile by making room for adult teeth.

Understanding how expanders work

If you aren’t aware of what palate expanders accomplish, they might seem like an optional step in the orthodontic process. Many people assume that dental braces can be adjusted for narrow palates, but this is often not the case. If there isn’t room in the jaw, your child’s arches of teeth will end up sharply curved and crowded, even if forced into an even line by braces.

Both adults and children can benefit from expanders, but it’s much easier to widen the jaw while it’s still developing. Children require less time in expanders because the bones in their palate haven’t fused yet, making it easier to spread them apart. 

Palate expanders exert pressure on the molars to push them outward, which creates space in the palate, nasal passages, and jaw. This can alleviate other orthodontic issues, including:

  • Crossbite 
  • Underbite 
  • Crowded teeth
  • Difficulty breathing 

By using expanders in early intervention, you can potentially reduce the length of time your child spends in braces later on. Expanders can also make it easier to be fitted with clear aligners, which aren’t always suitable for patients with severe orthodontic issues. 

When expanders are necessary  

Unfortunately, due to lack of education on the topic, very few people receive intervention while their jaws are still developing. This leads to a variety of complications later in life. If your child also has allergies or a deviated septum, a narrow palate can cause congestion, difficulty breathing, snoring, and poor sleep that lasts long past their childhood years.

If your child’s X-rays show signs of a narrow jaw, a palate expander should be considered before any further orthodontic treatment. The amount of time spent in expanders varies, but it typically takes an average of nine months to create space in the upper jaw. This paves the way for braces and aligners, allowing them to work faster and with less discomfort. 

If your child has a narrow palate, get in touch with the team at ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics by calling 503-336-1883, or request an appointment online.

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