Parents should have their child visit a kid-friendly dentist once every four to six months for a check-up visit and cleaning. Additional visits may also be necessary if the child is going through certain treatments or experiences oral health concerns that developed since the last visit.Understanding when to take a child to a kid-friendly dentist…
When Palate Expanders Are Used in Early Orthodontic Treatment
Palate expanders are often used in pediatric orthodontic treatment to improve how permanent teeth grow and allow for enough space in the jaw to prevent overcrowding or crooked teeth. This can reduce the need for orthodontic treatment, allowing for shorter treatment times or possibly avoiding the need for braces or clear aligners altogether.
An overview of palate expanders in early orthodontic treatment
One way orthodontists improve the bite position of young patients — and reduce the need for braces or clear aligners — is through palate expanders, which widen the upper jaw while the bones are more malleable (palate expansion is more challenging in adults). The following are some things to know about palate expanders for orthodontic treatment and when they are recommended.
What is early orthodontic treatment?
Early orthodontic treatment, also called Phase I orthodontic treatment, is for younger patients who may not have all of their permanent teeth yet. The goal of early orthodontic treatment is to help minimize the need for later orthodontic treatment (e.g., braces or clear aligners) by improving the growth position of teeth and allowing for an ample amount of space inside the jaw. The average age for early orthodontic treatment is seven to nine years old.
What are palate expanders?
Palate expanders are common orthodontic appliances that are used to widen the upper jaw to achieve an optimal bite pattern. They are commonly used in younger patients during early orthodontic treatment to allow for a more successful and shorter orthodontic process but they may be suitable for adult patients in some cases, as well.
When are palate expanders used in early orthodontic treatment?
Palate expanders widen the upper jaw and allow permanent teeth to emerge in the proper position. This means they are used in children who may not already have enough upper jaw space and do not already have all of their permanent teeth.
Palate expanders are sometimes used to widen an upper jaw in adults as well, particularly as a non-surgical alternative to upper jaw surgery. The best way to determine if palate expanders are appropriate for you or your child is to discuss all available treatment options with a dentist during a consultation.
What is the ideal age for palate expanders?
The ideal age for palate expanders is between seven and nine years old. During this age, the jaw is more malleable (able to be widened) and children at this age do not already have all of their permanent teeth, so there is still time to guide how the teeth will emerge through the gums. Palate expanders are more challenging to use as the patient ages and their jawbone hardens. However, as mentioned, palate expanders may still be an option for teenagers and adults during orthodontic care, depending on their specific treatment needs and goals.
What happens during the palate expander process?
Palate expanders do not usually cause pain. However, there may be some tension for the first few days to a week after the palate expanders are placed. The feeling of pressure may extend toward the upper part of the face, as well. Additionally, there may be some difficulty swallowing and talking for the first few days.
Most patients adjust within a week and are able to function as they usually would while wearing the palate expanders. It is important to follow the dentist’s care instructions while wearing the palate expanders to limit or avoid discomfort. If any intolerable discomfort or concerning symptoms develop, then notify the dentist to determine the cause of the concern.
What happens after palate expanders are removed?
A palate expander is usually worn for about nine months, although the official amount of time varies for each patient during early orthodontic care. The orthodontist may recommend starting braces treatment while the patient is still wearing the palate expander, depending on their age and the treatment plan that is established. In other instances, the patient may have the expander removed and start orthodontic treatment sometime after.
Do you or your child need palate expander treatment?
The early orthodontic process can begin with a consultation visit here at our orthodontic practice. If your child is between six and 10 years old and you want to learn more about how early orthodontic treatment can benefit them, then give us a call today. We take pride in assisting our younger patients and their parents through the early orthodontic treatment process.
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