If you are just about to start Phase 1 of treatment, your orthodontist may have mentioned a rapid palatal expander. At your visit, we will take an impression of your mouth and create a mold to send to a laboratory. Since we customize the expander to you, we guarantee a proper fit. We want to make sure that you feel comfortable wearing it.
A palatal expander sounds important but what does it do?
A palatal expander is an orthodontic appliance that gets cemented onto the top of your mouth. This device places gentle pressure on your palate or jaw, causing your teeth to shift, creating gaps in between your teeth. We use a palatal expander in cases of overcrowding or cross-bites. Your orthodontist will provide you with a key and a set of instructions. You will insert this key into a small opening in your expander to turn it. This movement is what creates the space you need within your mouth.
Since you cannot take the expander out of your mouth, you must keep it clean. Try to avoid especially sticky foods or food that can easily get caught (for example, popcorn) and take small bites while eating. We recommend brushing after each meal. If that’s not possible, rinse out your mouth after eating. At a minimum, drink a lot of water throughout the day. This flushes out unwanted bacteria and food debris trapped beneath the palatal expander. When brushing your teeth, floss as usual. Do not forget to brush the top of your mouth to ensure that the expander stays clean.
You may experience some discomfort with the palatal expander. Try taking Advil or use an ice pack. If the expander wires start digging into your gums or cheeks, simply apply orthodontic wax. As always, please call us with any concerns.