Many dental experts recommend that you bring your child to an orthodontist for their first appointment at the age of seven. Treating oral issues is easier while your child is young and their mouth is still forming. When they become a teenager, it can be much more difficult to correct misalignment problems.

It is easier to correct palatal issues with young kids as well. They are the ideal treatment for malocclusions or misalignment of the teeth and jaw. These tools are more commonly known as orthodontic expanders.

We made sure to discuss everything a parent should know about palate expanders below. If you are considering this orthodontic treatment for your child, be sure to read on. There is a lot that you will need to know.

What’s a Palate Expander?

A palate expander is a tool used to prevent and treat oral issues with children. It is used to widen the upper jaw and can treat crossbite or overcrowding with teeth. This provides more space for new teeth to grow in.

Because of the palate expanders many uses with allowing teeth to grow, it is also referred to as teeth expanders. Our team may also call them this.

Why are They Only Used on Children?

Palatal expanders are only suitable for young kids. This is because their jaws and teeth are still growing and changing, meaning they can handle orthodontics treatments much easier than adults.

For adults, your palates have fused already. That means they can be very difficult to reshape. Kids have more malleable mouths that can be changed easier. Many dental professionals will recommend that you visit an orthodontist by the time your child is seven because of this.

If they need to use a palate expander, you want to be sure you can start the treatment early.

Palate Expander Process

To start, each expander is custom-made for its wearer. They are then placed in the back of the mouth, where they are placed in halves. These sections connect and slowly change the shape of the wearer’s mouth over time.

They need to be adjusted every so often. We will give you a special key to tighten the expander. Each time you use it, more tension is created against the palatal bones, which widens the jaw. Our staff will walk you through every step of this process and will let you know when you need to use the key.

Finally, the orthodontic expander can take three to six months to complete the entire process. This will likely feel like a very long time to your child, but it will be worth it for their oral health.

Is the Process Painful?

The process is much simpler than wearing braces. It can be uncomfortable, but your child will not be in pain. It can take a while for them to get used to the feeling of the expander, but it will feel normal again over time.

They may feel some tension under their eyes or around their nose. This is where the jaw bones connect to the rest of the skull; they may feel this pressure when the key is used to increase the pressure in their mouth.

You may give your child a suitable painkiller when needed to deal with their discomfort.

Aftercare Process

The aftercare process is important as well. There is not much you need to do either. You should make sure that your child is brushing after each meal. This removes stuck food from the expander, which can cause bad breath and other issues.

Your child should also avoid eating sticky, hard, or very chewy foods until the expander is removed. Any food that can get stuck in their expander is going to cause problems.

Finally, you can help your child by encouraging them to brush their teeth often. They should be doing it after every time they eat, as well as when they first wake up and before bed. While brushing, they should spend a lot of time ensuring the equipment is clear of food.

When Does a Child Need an Expander?

Not every child is going to need to wear an expander. However, you must know the signs that your child does need one. These include:

  • Impacted teeth
  • Over-crowded teeth
  • Crossbites

If you notice that your child has any of those conditions, they must be corrected while they are young. This will allow your child’s oral health to improve greatly and nip any issues in the bud. That way, they will not become lifelong oral issues.

Impacted Teeth

This is caused by a narrow palate. It limits the amount of space for adult teeth to emerge, which can cause several issues. It is likely to lead to an impacted tooth.

Impacted teeth have nowhere to go. They can also be quite painful and add to the risk of oral diseases and jaw problems. The palatal expander reduces those risks by allowing more room for adult teeth to grow in.

Crowded Teeth

When there is limited space in a child’s mouth, their teeth can crowd one another. Overcrowding can make it very difficult to maintain oral hygiene, as your child can not reach all of their teeth while brushing.

The expander gives their teeth more room so that they can all be cleaned.


The upper and lower jaw should fit together nicely. If they are misaligned, this can lead to several issues. The easiest way to determine if a child has a crossbite is if their top back teeth naturally are behind their bottom back teeth.


Receiving orthodontics treatment at a young age is essential. While your child is still growing, it is much easier for the shape of their mouth to be changed. Be sure to contact our practice today if you want to learn more about the palate expander and how it can assist your child.

We have a lot of experience in working with kids. We are confident that we can put this experience to good use and get your child everything that they need in their treatment.