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4 Types of Palatal Expanders

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Palatal expanders (also called “palate” or “orthodontic” expanders) are orthodontic appliances that can treat oral health issues most commonly seen in pre-adolescents. However, when left untreated, these issues can pose lifelong health risks, leading some teenagers and adults to be prescribed a palatal expander to fix the unaddressed problems earlier in life.

To better understand how the types of palatal expanders can treat your unique oral health issues, continue reading to learn more about the benefits your dentist could recommend.

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

What is a Palatal Expander?

Before delving into the types, here’s a brief description of the general uses of palatal expanders.

These metal or acrylic appliances are anchored to two back molars and apply force outward to the patient’s palate, broadly defined as the roof of their mouth. This expands it over time, giving the upper jaw more room to widen.

This can be especially useful for pre-adolescents since a small palate can restrict the available space that their teeth have when they come in, causing them to crowd or overlap. In some cases, the gums have so little room that some teeth can’t come in at all, leading to painful impaction.

As a result of this expanding force, palatal expanders can correct spacing issues, crowding, and crossbites. They can prevent impaction and deter painful muscle and ligament strains before they develop into adulthood.

Finally, the palate has so much control over your sinuses that expanders can treat sinus-related sleep apnea in some cases.

What are the 4 Types of Palatal Expanders?

Depending on how severely your palate needs expansion, different types of expanders may be recommended. Some can be removed, while others are fixed in place.

Removable Palatal Expander

In cases where the palate only needs slight expansion, you may be the right fit for a removable palatal expander in one of several brands. These expanders consist of wires attached to a plastic or metal base. They can also have hard plastic parts covering the teeth, similar to a clear plastic aligner.

These expanders can be removed to eat, brush, or play sports. Otherwise, they should be worn as close to 24 hours per day as possible. Note that removable palatal expanders may not be the best fit for young patients since they are self-directed treatments.

Quad Helix Expander

The quad helix expander is fixed to the back molars. Its name comes from its structure being compressed at first but expanding over time.

This saves the patient the need for manual adjustments on their appliance since the expander reforms as treatment progresses.

Hyrax Rapid Expander

Another fixed palatal expander, the hyrax rapid expanders consist of bands that wrap around the back molars, affixed with dental adhesive.

Then, a screw is tightened into the appliance, which sits on the roof of your mouth. You have to manually tighten this screw with a small key as treatment progresses. Ask your orthodontist if you have any questions about their explanation of this process, as it’s vital to your treatment schedule to tighten it properly.

Haas Expander

The Haas expander is the final fixed appliance, this time bonded with dental adhesive to two back molars. In this expander, the flat plate expands with each adjustment, forcing the palate and teeth to expand with it.

This works similarly to the Hyrax appliance, though the Haas is made of acrylic. This plate pushes against the palate’s lateral walls to distribute the forces more evenly than in the Hyrax appliances.

How Long are Palate Expanders Worn?

Typically, treatment with a palate expander lasts 2-3 months if the patient is young. This is because children are still developing, making their bones and ligaments more responsive to developmental changes encouraged by one of these appliances.

Despite this, each case is different. The older you are when you begin treatment also influences how long you will need to wear the expander, up to 6 months in some cases.

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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