If your orthodontist doesn't think that your child's jaw will be big enough to accommodate all of their adult teeth, they may recommend that your child wears a palatal expander. An expander sits on the teeth and across the palate. Its aim is to widen your child's developing bones to give them more room in their mouth for all their permanent teeth.
While a palatal expander may not seem as big an orthodontic step as regular braces, this device does take some getting used to. What can you expect when your child has their expander fitted?
1. Your Child May Feel Some Discomfort
A palatal expander may only sit on the palate and on some teeth; however, your child may find that the device is uncomfortable to wear. To start with, it may feel funny in their mouth. For example, they may feel that it is bulky and uncomfortable.
As your child gets used to having the expander in place, this discomfort should go away. They may find it tricky again whenever you expand the device as it works, but any problems here shouldn't last long.
2. Your Child Has to Get Used to Oral Changes
Your child's palatal expander doesn't affect all the teeth like braces. However, it does have some effects that your child will have to get used to.
For example, they may find that they have a bit more saliva in their mouth when they start wearing the expander. This, together with the device itself, may make their speech a bit slurred. Again, as their mouth gets used to the device, their speech should return to normal.
You may also need to change your child's diet a little, especially when they start wearing the device and for a day or so after each expansion. If their mouth feels uncomfortable, they may prefer a soft diet at these times. At all times, they may need to avoid chewy or sticky foods that might stick to the expander itself.
3. Your Child's Front Teeth May Move
As the expander widens your child's jaw, it moves the two sides of their palate apart. When this happens, gaps can develop between certain teeth. For example, your child may get a gap between their two front teeth. This is normal. It shows that the treatment is working. The gap usually fixes itself towards the end of the expansion process.
To find out more about what to expect after your child's palatal expander is fitted, talk to your orthodontist at an orthodontic clinic. They can also give you tips on how to deal with any discomfort or dietary issues during the treatment.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved stories about the past. Whether the stories were about horses, wars, exploration or even dentistry, I loved to hear them. I find that knowing the history of something helps it to make sense and feel approachable. I know that some people have dental anxiety, and I too have suffered, but I also feel like the more you know about dental work and its history, the easier it is. This blog is dedicated to exploring the history of dentistry – What did ancient people use for fillings? How did early dentists numb their patients? Who was the first dentist? Those are just some of the questions I plan to answer here. Ready? Okay, let's dive into the history of dentistry together!