If Dr. Murphy determines your child has an upper jaw that is not growing wide enough for an optimal airway, tongue posture, and permanent tooth spacing, your child may benefit from a palatal expander.
The expander is custom-made for your child's mouth and works to gently “expand” (or widen) the developing upper jaw by putting slight pressure on the upper molars each time an adjustment is made. The animation below shows how the expander is adjusted. We typically recommend turning the expander two times a day for approximately two weeks to ensure your child is comfortable and has the best results.
You may note from the photo above, that this is not the same expander you were so lucky to have a few short years ago. We like to use a "mini" version - we get amazing results with an appliance that is easy to get used to and easy to clean.
When we achieve the desired expansion, the expander will continue to be worn for several months to maintain the growth we've achieved and to prevent regression.
Adjusting the palatal expander
You can also download these instructions in a printable PDF document.
In a well-lit area, tip the patient’s head back.
Place the key in the hole until it is firmly in place.
Push the key toward the back of the mouth. You will notice the fender will rotate and the new hole will appear. The rotation stops when the key meets the back of the expander.
Press back and down toward the tongue to remove the key. The next hole for the insertion of the key should now be visible.
*Children tolerate expansion very well! It does not hurt them, but can be stressful on the parent who is activating the expander. The number-one mistake is getting stuck in what we call “No Man’s Land.” This is when the expander is not turned fully to expose the next full hole. Don’t worry, you can’t turn it too far, but you can turn it not far enough!*