Palatal expanders are an early phase orthodontic solution that Dr. Michael Ashcraft uses to facilitate proper tooth eruption, jaw alignment, and oral function for children in Little Rock, AR. A palatal expander appliance widens the cartilage and bone tissue in the upper jaw before the growth plates in the hard palate fuse together. This process pushes the upper teeth out so that they fit comfortably over the lower teeth when your child bites down. When dental concerns, like a narrow arch or high palatal vault, are treated with early intervention, we can often minimize the need to correct orthodontic issues with jaw surgery or other more invasive measures. Your child may benefit from a palatal expander as part of the beginning stages of an orthodontic treatment plan. Schedule a consultation at Ashcraft Orthodontics Little Rock today to learn if a palatal expander can improve your child’s future oral health and smile.
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Your child may be a candidate for a palatal expander if they have a narrow upper (palatal) arch or the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth (crossbite). Palatal expanders are an effective treatment used to gently stretch the hard palate to widen the upper jaw. An upper arch that is too narrow may not allow for proper eruption of the permanent teeth and can cause the lower teeth to overlap the upper arch. This type of eruption pattern may interfere with normal chewing and speaking functions and may even cause discomfort in your child’s jaw.
Wearing a palatal expander when the jawbones are still developing can minimize the chance of developing other orthodontic concerns, such as crowding and crossbite. Treatment with the palatal expansion is best performed before the bones in the roof of the mouth fully fuse, which occurs between the ages of 14 – 16. When the teeth are able to erupt properly, they are easier to maintain with normal brushing and flossing. In this way, a palatal expander can also help reduce the chance of your child developing tooth decay and gum disease later in life.
What to Expect
Fixed palatal expanders are usually attached to orthodontic bands that are cemented to molar teeth. These appliances are designed to meet varying treatment goals but may contain resin, coils, wires, and other hardware that spans the space near the roof of the mouth. In some cases, these appliances are made to be removable and can be customized in a variety of fun colors. Depending on your child’s needs, you and your child may need to adjust the expander regularly with a small key that causes the appliance to stretch the bones a bit each day. Your child may notice pressure in the teeth or jaw for a day or two following each time you adjust the appliance.
Palatal expanders are made of materials that stretch across the upper arch and contain a number of places for plaque and food to collect. Since brushing and flossing around an expansion device can prove challenging, we suggest that you help your child with their home care efforts. Dr. Ashcraft may also recommend other oral hygiene tools that can help your child maintain healthy teeth and gums when wearing a palatal expander. Keeping up with routine dental cleanings at your child’s general dentist's office is also crucial during orthodontic care.
It is common for a child to develop spaces between their front teeth when a palatal expander is in place. This is a normal occurrence and may be intentional to help facilitate future orthodontic results. We will schedule follow-up appointments for your child so that Dr. Ashcraft can monitor their progress and adjust the expander as needed. Our team will also let you know the length of time the expander will need to be worn. This timeframe varies among children but is usually around 6 – 9 months. During your child’s checkup visits, we will let you know of any areas in your child’s mouth that may require additional care when brushing and flossing to help keep their smile healthy and happy.
As an early orthodontic treatment, palatal expanders may be covered under your insurance plan. Our knowledgeable team will review your coverage benefits and calculate any out-of-pocket expenses. We can also file insurance claims on your behalf. It is important to our caring team at Ashcraft Orthodontics Little Rock that your child receives the treatment needed for a healthy, functional smile. We are pleased to offer a range of convenient payment methods that include flexible financing options through CareCredit® and our in-house payment plan.
Professional Orthodontic Care
Palatal expanders from Dr. Ashcraft are a critical part of early orthodontic treatment for many young patients in Little Rock, AR. The use of these appliances can allow for proper eruption and alignment of the teeth and improve the function, appearance, and oral health of your child’s smile. To learn if your child can benefit from palatal expansion therapy, contact Ashcraft Orthodontics Little Rock and schedule a consultation with our experienced orthodontist today.