Life With An Expander

Have you considered orthodontic treatment but are worried about your teeth being too crowded? Or have you avoided seeing an orthodontist because you are concerned you might need teeth extractions or reconstructive surgery to fix your smile? 

While both are valid and sometimes necessary forms of treatment, there’s a great chance you will only need a palate expander! At Dillehay Orthodontics, we encounter many people who are unsure or scared of palate expanders, mainly because they don’t know what they are. Never fear! We’re here to give you the information you need about life with an expander to help you make well-informed decisions for yourself and your family!

What Are Expanders?

Whether you’ve just begun your orthodontic research, you’ve probably noticed several well-known treatment options. At Dillehay Orthodontics, we offer metal braces, clear braces, clear aligners, and lingual braces, among other choices, to Wichita and surrounding areas. Each type of oral braces offers pros and cons based on your needs and lifestyle.

Similarly, there are multiple kinds of palate expanders, each with various pros and cons. 

Surgically Assisted Rapid Palate Expander (SARPE)

If your case is moderate to severe, you might be a candidate for surgically assisted rapid palate expanders. An oral surgeon places this device where the two sides of your palate meet in the middle. After its surgical installation, you must change your diet and lifestyle for a few weeks. You should follow your surgeon’s guidelines closely for the most comfortable and safest healing process.

Removable Palate Expander

Removable palate expanders are a great option if you only need to expand your palate slightly. This device looks like a chrome retainer and requires similar care. Patients with a removable palate expander must remember to clean them daily with toothpaste and a toothbrush. You do not need to remove palate expanders when eating (though you should remove them for cleaning afterward).

Rapid Palate Expander

This appliance is fixed to the teeth and is not removable by the patient. Rapid palate expanders can expand the palate at a rate of 0.5 millimeters daily.  

Implant-Supported Palate Expander

This palate expander requires four dental implants installed into the maxillary bone instead of your teeth. The expander will put pressure directly on the bone instead of the teeth. A periodontist or oral surgeon places the implants.

Some palate expanders independently adjust as needed,  but others need you to adjust manually daily. 

How Do You Know If You Need A Palate Expander?

Palate expanders help with overcrowding, crossbite, open bite, and other orthodontic complications. With the help of a palate expander, you can have an easier time with oral hygiene, eating, and communicating. Expanding narrow palates can also help broaden the nasal passageways, making breathing less challenging.

Patients of all ages can benefit from a palate expander, but they are most common in children. It is less difficult to make changes to the still-developing bones of children, whereas adult bones are solidified and harder to move. Because of this, children can wear the expander for a few months, while adults might need a year or so.

What Is Life With An Expander Like?

Widening your palate might sound overwhelming, but we promise it is a fairly standard procedure. To ease your mind, let’s look at some palate expander FAQs! 

Are Palate Expanders Painful?

There will be some discomfort and soreness throughout the process, especially at the start of palate expansion when your mouth is not yet accustomed to the device. As your palate expands, you might feel some tenderness. Fortunately, you can treat most uncomfortable sensations with over-the-counter pain medications. 

If your palate is manually adjusted, you will feel tingling in your nose for a few seconds. This tingling does not hurt, but feeling it for the first time can be startling! We promise you’ll quickly get used to it, and it fades within seconds.

If your palate expander requires surgery to install, you will feel more side effects that are typical with this type of procedure, like bruising, swelling, and numbness. Your symptoms will wane as time passes, but unfortunately, there is a risk of them being permanent, although this is very rare. 

Will I Still Be Able To Talk With A Palate Expander?

Of course! It might not be easy initially because your tongue isn’t used to having the expander in the way. However, with some patience and practice, you soon won’t notice the expander when you talk, and others won’t hear a difference in your speech. 

Do I Need To Change My Diet Or Oral Hygiene With A Palate Expander?

When you have a palate expander, you must avoid hard, chewy, and sticky food that can break, stick to, or damage the appliance. If you risk eating these foods and feel triumphant when your expander stays intact, remember that removing stuck food from them can be tricky. These leftover foods can leave you vulnerable to bacteria and plaque that can damage your teeth and give you bad breath. We admit chewing might take some practice with your expander in place, but we have faith you’ll quickly become a pro! 

You will also need to learn how to clean your appliances adequately, but luckily that only takes a few minutes a day. We strongly recommend investing in a water flosser to make it easy. And don’t worry. Our team of professionals is on hand to teach you the most effective ways to clean your appliance and keep your smile dazzling!

Discover If Your Or Your Loved One Needs A Palate Expander With Dillehay Orthodontics!

Not everyone needs a palate expander to improve their bite and smile, but it can be life-changing for those that do. The most accurate way to determine if you or a family member might is to bring them in for a free consultation at Dillehay Orthodontics! At your free assessment, we will thoroughly examine your teeth, gums, and facial structure before creating your treatment plan. Whether or not you need a palate expander, our team will help you prepare for the next steps.

Schedule your appointment today at one of our convenient East Wichita, West Wichita, Derby, or Pratt locations!