Hyrax – palatal expanders

Palatal expanders are used to create more space in the child’s mouth by gradually expanding the upper jaw. Though this may sound scary, it is really easy and without much inconvenience. This is possible because the upper jaw actually develops as two separate halves that are not completely joined until after puberty. Before this happens, the two bones can easily be detached and stabilized over a period of several months.

 

The three situations that most often require the expansion of the palate are:

When the upper jaw of the child is too narrow to properly fit with the lower jaw, the teeth on the back of the jaw are positioned on the inner side of the lower jaw, instead on the outside. This can be corrected by expanding the upper jaw.

Crowded teeth – Even before all the permanent teeth of a child emerge, we can know if there is going to be enough space for all of them. Upper jaw expansion can create the required space without the need for teeth removal.

When the tooth which has not yet emerged is blocked by other teeth, the expansion of the upper jaw may allow the tooth to grow in its proper position. This is the most common situation with the cuspids.

 

Upper jaw expansion has other advantages as well: It can expand the smile in esthetically pleasing manner, it can limit the number of teeth needed to be removed to create space, and can also enhance breathing. It may shorten the entire duration of orthodontic treatment.

 

How do palatal expanders work?

The expander is custom made for every person and fits into several upper teeth in the back of the mouth. The device has two halves with the screw in the middle. To activate the device, simply use a special key to rotate the screw a little, every day.

This causes tension on the joint of the two bones, causing gradual separation. Once the desired expansion is achieved, we will leave the device for a few more months to allow the new bone to grow in the space we just created, and stabilize the palate. Expander treatment usually takes 3-6 months.

 

What to expect?

A few minutes after turning the key of the expander, the child can feel slight pain or feelings of pressure, but the activation of the expander will actually cause less discomfort than tightening of the braces. Your child may notice some changes in speech or difficulty eating, but the tongue will gradually adapt to the presence of the device. We can also expect incisors getting further apart, indicating the desired effect of the expander. After the treatment, the permanent teeth of your child will be well positioned.