Palatal Expanders - Bright Braces - Katy, TX
Even Teeth & Bite
Often times, a patient's bright smile requires a little work to correct the shape of their bite and how their teeth actually grow in - especially in younger patients. The upper jaw actually consists of 2 halves that aren't fully connected, or fused together, until the mid-teen years. Before this happens, we are able to manipulate the development of the upper palate to allow for more room for teeth to grow evenly, as well as align the upper and lower jaw for an even bite. The palatal expander is a effective tool in our orthodontic toolbox that does just that.
How Does a Palatal Expander Work?
So how on earth does something this small make that much of an impact on your bones? Actually, it's quite simple. Each half of the expander is connected to one side of your palate. Once installed here at our office in Katy, you'll be provided with a special key that can be inserted into the expander at the roof of your mouth, and as it is turned, the expander applies pressure outward on each side. This gently separates those palatal bones and realigns them. You'll be given instructions on when to turn the key and by how much. Then, over time, your palate will be widened to the perfect point, allowing for an even bite and bright smile!
When Would I Need A Palatal Expander?
There are a number of cases where a palatal expander is necessary, most of which are related to structural issues that require a wider jaw, or simply more even tooth growth. Some of these issues are:
Tooth Crowding - This is when anterior (front) teeth grow in too closely and either overlap or rotate. This is treated with a palatal expander by widening the jaw so permanent teeth have more room to grow in and minimize the need for tooth extraction.
Crossbite - A crossbite occurs when the upper and lower jaw aren't aligned properly, which is often due to the upper jaw being too narrow. Because of this, the bottom teeth will bite outside the top teeth. If left untreated, patients will compensate by shifting the jaw, which can lead to TMJ pain, accelerated enamel wear, and changes to the facial structure. A palatal expander can widen the upper jaw to the point that the crossbite is eliminated.
Sleep Apnea - Sleep apnea, to put it simply, interrupts breathing while asleep due to narrow airways. A palatal expander helps to widen these airways, allowing a smoother breathing passage and reducing the effects of sleep apnea.
Impacted Teeth - Teeth can grow in a way that blocks the path of other teeth, keeping them from erupting (coming out from the jaw). In these cases, the tooth that cannot erupt becomes stuck beneath tissue, which is called an impacted tooth. In order to avoid oral surgery or more invasive procedures, a palatal expander can create enough space for these teeth to grow in.
These conditions are very common, and the palatal expander has become a regular fixture of any orthodontist's toolbox. During your initial consultation, we'll be able to determine whether this type of treatment is needed, and if so, we'll help you along the way to get that jaw aligned and your bright smile ready to shine!