The palate is another name for the roof of your mouth, which separates the cavities of the nose and the mouth and is also a part of the upper jaw. The upper jaw is also called the maxilla, and it consists of both the palate and the entire upper arch of teeth. In children, the two bones of the maxilla are not yet fused into what is called the midline suture. It’s most efficient to treat narrow palates with a palatal expander when patients are young so that we can take advantage of the plasticity of their midline suture. When you schedule an orthodontic exam when your child is young, this allows us to intervene early if your child’s palate is narrow, allowing for an easier overall orthodontic experience.
Sometimes, when the palate is too narrow, patients come to us with bite issues as well as tooth alignment and breathing issues. Orthodontists use a proven and efficient device called a palatal expander to successfully widen the palate during orthodontic treatment. Palatal expansion can improve the airway and create more space for breathing. We watch the airway closely before and after treatment to ensure airway-friendly orthodontics. During your consultation appointment with the trusted doctors at Harwell & Cook Orthodontics, you will receive a comprehensive examination to see if a palatal expander is something that will be added to your treatment plan.
The palatal expander is a common orthodontic appliance that gently applies pressure to stimulate bone growth at the midline suture. When palatal expansion is a part of you or your child’s treatment plan, this device will be attached to the upper molars to apply a precise amount of pressure for about six months. In general, the process is gentle and does not cause discomfort, although there can be some minimal soreness at times. It is normal to develop a small gap between the two front teeth as the palate expands during treatment, but this gap almost always closes on its own. If it does not, braces may be used after use of the palatal expander to correct the spacing of the teeth.
Our helpful staff is available to schedule your complimentary consultation with Dr. Anthony or Dr. Cook to create a detailed plan for you or your child’s orthodontic needs, including an assessment of the palate and airway. We look forward to getting started!