The palate-widening appliance is a specifically made device used to expand the upper arch or roof of the mouth. There are several reasons to widen the arch. First, widening the arch allows the upper teeth to align better with the lower teeth, improving the patient’s bone alignment and coordination of bite, or occlusion. Second, by widening the palate, the air passages located directly above the arch also widen, allowing the patient to breathe more easily through his or her nose. Third, widening the palate can make more room for crowded teeth to align better.

The expanding action of the appliance gently separates the elastic membrane in the center of the palate. Once the palate has been expanded fully, new bone tissue fills that space.

The upper arch is usually expanded enough in 15 to 20 days, however, the appliance is allowed to remain in the mouth for up to 9-12 months while new bone is generating in the expanded arch. You’ll notice that widening the palate may also cause temporary spaces between the two front teeth. Do not be alarmed. The space closes again naturally.

There may be some initial discomfort and some feeling of pressure as the arch expands. Also, the same pressure on the roof of the mouth may cause a tingling sensation at the bridge of the nose or an itch under the appliance. Usually, any over-the-counter pain reliever will effectively relieve discomfort.

As a Parent:

  • Activate the appliance.
  • Closely follow the schedule and instructions given by Dr. LeCompte.
  • Be regular! It is important not to rush or delay the activation of the appliance.
  • Be sure the appliance is carefully cleaned each time they brush. An oral irrigation device, such as a Waterpik, coupled with mouthwash will keep the appliance free of food debris and prevent irritation.

To Activate the Appliance:

  • Wrap the attached dental floss around your finger. Carefully insert the tip of the wire key into the foremost hole of the appliance.
  • While holding the round part of the key with the thumb and forefinger, push the key toward the back of the oral cavity.
  • When it has been pushed to the point where the next entire hole of the appliance appears, the turn is complete. Slide the key out and down in the direction of the back of the oral cavity and remove the key from the mouth.

*In the event of a loose molar band, stop activation and call our office. We will schedule an appointment to cement it back.

For more information, please watch this video from BraceQuestions.com on how to turn the key on your orthodontic jaw expander: