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Palatal Expanders


Child in dental chair getting orthodontic examMany patients have an upper jaw and palate area that is too narrow for the development of a good bite. A palatal expander is used to create space in your mouth as part of orthodontic treatment. This may sound extreme, but the process is quite simple with very little discomfort.

Our team at Senestraro Family Orthodontics will look for both typical and atypical palatal growth problems and then together we can create a treatment plan, which may include a palatal expander.

Early Orthodontics


Today, we like to see children even younger for early interceptive orthodontics. This is not necessarily the placement of braces, but for orthodontic devices such as maxillary expanders. This type of orthodontic treatment can begin as young as 6 or 7. This may sound young, but at this age the permanent teeth are still developing, and their jaw is still growing. This means that we can catch problems before they become problems.

A palatal or maxillary expander may be needed for a variety of reasons, but the three most typical reasons include:
•  Over Crowding: One of the most common reasons for a palatal expander is lack of sufficient room for teeth to move into position. Even early examinations can often provide valuable predictive information of whether a child will have enough room for his or her teeth to properly descend. By widening the upper jaw, we can help create the needed space, this may help prevent or lessen the need for tooth extraction.
•  Crossbite: Another common bite disorder that we see is known as a crossbite. It is when the upper jaw is too narrow to fit correctly with the lower jaw, the result can be that the back top teeth will then bite inside of the lower teeth instead of outside as it would with a proper bite. A crossbite can be corrected by expanding the upper jaw.
•  Impacted Teeth: Teeth that are impacted are teeth that are unable to come into position due to lack of room. A palate expander can widen the space, allowing impacted teeth to erupt into proper positioning.

How Expanders Work


An expander is made up of two halves of a metal device. Each side is set in place by attaching to several teeth. In the middle of the palate the device is joined by a screw. We simply turn the screw slightly to slowly apply pressure on the palate and gently shift the palate outward. This may sound uncomfortable, but we do it in such small increments that the discomfort is very slight. Treatment can vary based on your child’s needs but is often completed in three to six months.

Palatal expansion provides the patient several benefits including:
•  An Improved Smile: Having a narrow palate affects more than your teeth, it affects your facial shape. Widening the palate will provide you with a broader, bigger smile.
•  Reduce the Need for Extraction: A common step prior to having braces placed is the removal of teeth that just do not fit, they may be impacted or not have enough room. By expanding the palate, we can help your child have the needed room for all their teeth.
•  Less Orthodontic Treatment Later: By catching bite problems young, we may be able to intervene and take steps that will reduce the need for treatment later.

Schedule a Consultation


If you think your child may be in need of an early orthodontic treatment due to crowding or alignment issues, contact us at (503) 446-5815 today to schedule a consultation.
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