Life With a Palatal Expander

Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children visit an orthodontist by age 7? Getting a head start on a straight smile allows the Razi Orthodontics team to work with your child’s natural growth to get the best results possible. We use all different tools and tricks, but for patients with a narrow upper jaw, an expander is an excellent way to make more room in their mouths. If Dr. Razi recommended this appliance for your child, keep reading to learn more about life with an expander so you know what to expect. 

What is an orthodontic expander? 

And what is a narrow palate? 

When the roof of your child’s mouth is too small to allow space for all of their teeth to grow in, they might have what’s known as a narrow palate. Patients with this condition often have crooked, crowded, or overlapping teeth, leading to headaches, tooth pain, or even sleeping/airway issues. 

Fortunately, the solution is simple: we’ll try an expander! 

How does it work? 

Expanders work best for younger patients whose mouths are still developing. This is because the roof of the mouth is made up of two bones that fuse together during puberty. However, until that change happens, these bones are still pliable, making it possible to use an orthodontic expander to widen this space and allow more room for the teeth. 

The expander fits directly behind your child’s front teeth on the roof of their mouth. Over time, we’ll work with your child’s natural growth by continuing to adjust the appliance. These adjustments will apply gentle pressure on both sides of the upper jaw, forcing new bone to grow within the space and expanding the narrow palate. Soon, there will be just the right amount of space for the teeth to line up correctly!

Life with an Expander

From fitting to cleaning and everything in between 

If Dr. Razi recommends using an expander, we’ll start by fitting the appliance to your child’s needs. By applying metal bands to the back teeth, we’ll secure the custom device to the roof of the mouth. 

Although an expander doesn’t hurt, it can cause discomfort that might take some getting used to at first. Your child could experience pressure or soreness after adjusting the appliance, but this is only temporary, and it’s all a part of the process. 

Life With a Palatal Expander

Adjusting to the New Appliance 

The hardest part of getting an expander is patience. With time, your child will quickly learn how to live with and care for this important appliance, but until then, it’s good to roll with the punches and communicate any changes with our team. 

You can expect to change a few things when your child gets an orthodontic expander. 


Because an expander fits on the roof of the mouth, it can temporarily interfere with your child’s typical speech patterns. The tongue is restricted in this position, so words may sound slightly different, which can cause anxiety for some patients. 

The best thing you can do to prevent this is to help your child practice their speech with the new appliance. Try reading aloud or blasting the music and singing in the car. Once your child gets used to the appliance, the trouble with speech will quickly subside. 

Eating Habits

Your child’s diet is directly affected by the restriction of the tongue and the amount of space in the mouth, which means that they may have to change up their menu while they adjust to their new appliance. 

Chewing can feel a bit odd, so sticking with soft foods for the first few days after an adjustment is a sure way to avoid discomfort. The more and more your child gets used to the new appliance, the easier it will be to reintroduce their regular diet. 

Cleaning & Caring for Their Expander

Good oral hygiene is essential for anyone at any stage of life, but when you have an orthodontic expander, it’s especially important to get it right. Help your child keep their mouth cavity-free by encouraging them to spend extra time brushing their teeth in the morning and at night. You can also try using a water flosser to get rid of any hidden food particles that may remain stuck even after brushing. 

The most important thing you can do to help your child maintain their new appliance is to get them to every appointment with Dr. Razi. We’ll provide tips that will help them stay on track. 

Give Your Child the Gift of a Confident Smile

Although an orthodontic expander may come with a lot of bells and whistles, the straight smile we reveal when all is said and done is worth the adjustment phase. This temporary period is so short, but the payoff is huge! If you think your child is ready to get braces or needs an early round of treatment, schedule their free consultation with our team in Wheaton today!