A palatal expander is an important part of orthodontic treatment for some patients. It helps to widen the upper jaw by placing gentle pressure on your molars. Each time you come to Oak Tree Orthodontist in San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Ray Melendez will check to see if your palatal expander needs adjusting. One reason you may need this treatment is to correct issues caused by a cross-bite. It also provides extra space for your existing teeth to move. In the case of children, it allows more space for the teeth that have not yet erupted to grow in properly.
Dr. Melendez will let you know how much expansion he feels you need after your initial orthodontic consultation and exam. After you discontinue using the palatal expander, you still need to wear an oral appliance for the next several months. This prevents your expanded jaw from regressing to the same position it was in prior to treatment.
Upper Jaw Anatomy
A suture separates the two equal halves of your jaw. You can feel the dividing line with your tongue when you run it along the top portion of your jaw. The purpose of a palatal expander is first to separate each half of the upper jaw and then to create extra space between the two equal halves. We offer several different options and styles of palatal expanders at Oak Tree Orthodontist.
Palatal Expander Adjustments
After making sure the lighting in the room is appropriate, Dr. Melendez tips your head back to start the adjustment. He then follows these steps:
- Inserts the key of the palatal expander into the proper opening and ensures that it has a firm grip.
- Presses down on the key positioned towards the back of your mouth to create adequate pressure. This step causes the fender to rotate and display a new opening for the key. Dr. Melendez completes the rotation when the back of the expander and the key intersect.
- Dislodges the key by pressing back and down towards your tongue. This makes it easy to see the new opening to insert the next palatal expander key in the series.
The entire process takes just a few minutes to complete and should cause minimal discomfort. Dr. Melendez checks the keys and openings one last time and makes any necessary adjustments before dismissing you from the appointment. Please let us know if you have additional questions about this or any other aspect of orthodontic treatment.