Tooth Tips for Later Life

All There Is to Know About Adjusting Your Child's Palatal Expanders

There are multiple orthodontic procedures done to correct various dental problems. Palate expansion is a procedure that involves the use of a device, a palatal expander, to widen the upper jaw. By so doing, palatal expanders act to correct three major dental conditions: crossbite, overcrowded teeth, and tooth impaction. Palate expanders are usually most effective when used on children whose jaws are still developing. If your child has palate expanders, you need to turn or adjust them for the expansion to work. If you've never done this before, here is what you should know.

When Should You Adjust the Palatal Expanders? 

How often you should turn the expanders will depend on the orthodontist's instructions. That is, depending on the level of expansion that is needed or whether there's another orthodontic procedure that has to be done, you may have to turn the palatal expanders once or more times a day. What's important is that you ensure consistency in adjusting these expanders.

How Should You Adjust the Expanders?

Instructions for adjusting palatal expanders are usually straightforward, but you need to follow them correctly. First, you need to work in an area with enough light, whether outdoor or indoors. If necessary, get a flashlight for the procedure. Next, get your child to tilt their head back or simply lie down on a bed or a couch. You should then insert the key the orthodontist gave you into the hole on the expander, which is usually at the centre of the device. With the key securely in place, push it in the direction of the arrow on the appliance.

At this point, you should see some rotation and the next hole appearing. Once the rotation stops, push the key back and in the direction of the tongue. Doing this will remove it. It is very important that you understand the direction in which you have to move the key because moving it towards the front of your child's mouth could reverse the turn.

What Is Expected After the Adjustment?

First, your child's teeth may feel sore or slightly tight after every turn. However, this will usually just last for a few minutes. With continued expansion, you might notice an opening between the child's two upper front teeth. This is normal and not a cause for alarm, but it may be accompanied by sensitivity. The space can become larger but, it will eventually close once the expansion is complete.