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Space It Out! How a Palate Expander Preps for a New Smile

By Connolly Orthodontics

Before treatment with braces or Invisalign, your child may need a palate expander. This will allow for enough space in your child’s mouth to move their teeth properly. Younger children are easier to treat with palate expanders than adults, but adults can be treated with them, too. So what is a palate expander, and why would your child need one? Connolly Orthodontics has the answers!

What Is a Palate Expander?

A palate expander is a device that widens the roof of your mouth, or palate. Why would you need to do this? Children with crowded teeth sometimes have narrow palates, which means they don’t have enough room in their mouths for all of their teeth to come in correctly. One option is to pull certain teeth, such as the second premolars. However, if we can avoid pulling teeth, we’d like to do that, and a palate expander can make room without your child losing any teeth! 

Palate expanders work best with younger children. That’s because the palate is still two pieces in smaller children with a seam down the middle. As you get older, that seam fuses to turn the palate into one piece of bone. Palate expansion is possible in adults, though. 

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What are the Types of Palate Expanders?

Your child will likely use a Rapid Palate Expander, or RPE. This device has bands that fit around the back teeth and center joint that must be adjusted daily. The joint applies pressure to the back molars and slowly widens the palate. Adult patients often use the Maxillary Skeletal Expansion (MSE) or Miniscrew-Assisted Rapid Palate Expander (MARPE). These work in adults the way the RPE works in kids, but because they’re dealing with fused bone instead of unfused bone, they work at a slower pace. 

How does a palate expander work? They all work similarly. A small key is inserted in the center joint to adjust the palate expander each day. A little more pressure is applied with each turn of the key. This is done every day until the palate has been expanded enough to allow the teeth to move into their proper places. 

Will My Child Need a Palate Expander?

That’s a great question! It’s one we can answer, but only after a thorough examination. We provide such an examination during your first free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll take detailed 3D images and x-rays of your child’s mouth and determine what will be needed to create the perfect smile and bite. Getting started is easy! You can get started using our virtual consult tool from any desktop or laptop computer or mobile device. We’ll look at your information and set up that no-obligation consultation. After that, we’ll be able to answer any questions you may have about your child and whether a palate expander is right for them.

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