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Can Your Jaw Width and Size be Increased by an Orthodontist?

Welcome to Reese Orthodontics, your Charleston, SC premier Invisalign and Braces professional. We look forward to helping you obtain your best smile.

Your jaw width and size are largely determined by your genetics. Depending on these measurements, your teeth may have crowding or impaction issues that can lead to problems with biting, chewing, and speaking.

However, your jaw width and size are not entirely set in stone (or set in bone), as orthodontists have devices that can change your jaw, within certain limits. If a narrow upper jaw causes a child’s or adult’s oral health issues, these devices may be able to give their teeth more room to grow, lessening the severity of their oral health issues down the line.

Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.

What Causes a Narrow Upper Jaw?

While genetics play a guiding role in jaw development, habits in early childhood can change the result. Thumb-sucking, for example, can cause the palate and upper jaw to narrow from the pressure.

At that early age, our jaws are more susceptible to structural change. For the same reason that certain habits can adversely affect jaw size, the right orthodontic treatment in early childhood can positively affect it.

While the structures are still malleable, orthodontists can increase the patient’s jaw width and size using certain devices like palate expanders.

What is a Plate Expander?

A palate expander can take several forms but is most commonly a metal appliance that sits on the roof of the patient’s mouth, attached to their second-to-last back molars on either side. In the middle, a screw can be tightened or loosened using a special key.

Once wound out, a palate expander can gradually encourage width in the patient’s jaw. Though the musculatures of young children are more susceptible to these changes, palate expanders could produce positive effects at any age, though the treatment times may be longer.

Regardless of the type of palate expander your orthodontist recommends, most child cases can be treated within 2-3 months. There are usually four options that this treatment could employ, depending on the situation:

  • Rapid expander – This is the most common palate expander, a metal device with a screw in the center that can be tightened either at the office or at home once instructed by an orthodontist.
  • Removable expander – This type looks like a metallic retainer and fastens over the patient’s teeth. It can be used when only minor adjustments are needed.
  • Implant expander – Rather than anchoring to the patient’s teeth, implant expanders rely on dental implants to put outward pressure on the jaw.
  • SARPE – SARPE stands for “surgically assisted rapid palate expander” and is usually reserved for severe or adult cases. The expander is surgically inserted, supported by the upper teeth. Like a rapid expander, the implant needs to be tightened as directed.

What are the Benefits of Having a Palate Expander?

A narrow jaw can cause many symptoms, including crowded teeth, impaction, crooked teeth, chewing issues, speech impediments, bite problems, and more. These are also the main issues that a palate expander can address.

These issues compound over time and get worse as the patient must continue biting, chewing, and speaking in suboptimal ways. Eventually, severe cases can result in adults who need oral surgery because they never received comparatively simple corrections as children.

What is Facially Focused Orthodontics?

Facially focused orthodontics is a relatively new perspective that acknowledges the significance of all facial structures in maintaining healthy teeth positions.

A patient’s face can be non-ideal for proper teeth formation in many ways, including having a narrow upper jaw. If detected early, efficient orthodontic devices like palate expanders can be used to steer jaw development in a healthy direction, which in turn will allow teeth to come in naturally, saving patients (or their parents) thousands of dollars in the long run.

Ask your orthodontist if you or your child could benefit from facially focused orthodontics. Every jaw is different, so no generalized online advice can be as good as the advice given by a professional who can examine your jaw and assess your oral health situation in-person.

Choose Reese Orthodontics

If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.

Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.

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