Palate Expander: Your palette is the roof of your mouth and the soft part of your lips, but what does that have to do with a palate expander? Actually, it has everything to do with palate expanders. A palate expander is an orthodontic device that can be used to widen the area of your palate and make space for permanent teeth that may need to grow in later due to overcrowding or improperly aligned teeth.
If you’re confused about what exactly palate expanders are and why they’re so important, keep reading to find out more information!
The Purpose of a Palate Expander:
Because adults have more teeth than children, they may not be able to wear certain sizes of braces simply because their mouths don’t fit. A palate expander is designed to change that by opening up your jaw, so you can fit into a smaller brace. The two major components of a palate expander are an arch bar and grip springs.
The arch bar is affixed to your upper molars; its purpose is to hold a series of grip springs in place. Each spring exerts pressure on one side of your jaw bone for several weeks before being removed and replaced with another set. This process continues until you can open your mouth wide enough for an orthodontic brace without discomfort.
Typical Materials Used in Making an Expander:
Metal, Plastic or a Combination of Both: An expander is a device used to stretch a patient’s palate. In cases where it is too small (micrognathia), too narrow (cleft lip), or simply misshapen in some way, an expander can be used to make room for more permanent prosthetics.
All patients who wear an expander should have one that is made from metal, rather than plastic. Though they look similar on the outside, metal expanders are designed much more effectively and will serve their purpose longer. In most cases, doctors will use materials that are a combination of both metal and plastic. The reason for doing so is because there are certain areas of a patient’s mouth that can only be reached with plastic.
What Are Its Benefits?:
There are many benefits to using a palate expander that can help you achieve your new smile. One of these benefits is that it will help increase your capacity for taking in liquids, which is important if you’re ever in need of medical attention or are feeling dehydrated.
Another benefit to using a palate expander is that it will help avoid infections as well as reduce inflammation caused by prolonged use of dentures or partial plates while you wait for your new teeth to come in. A palate expander can be put into use at home once inserted, or worn throughout treatment until it’s no longer needed.
This gives you more control over when and how long it stays in place for optimal results!
How Long Do I Wear It?
The average person wears their palate expander for 16 hours a day, in four hour increments. This allows your mouth to slowly stretch over time so you can eventually wear regular dentures comfortably.
If you’re just getting used to wearing dentures, you may want to start with only two hours at a time until your mouth becomes accustomed to its new burden. After that, you can begin experimenting with longer stretches of time wearing it each day.
While most people choose to wear their palate expanders 24/7 once they reach that stage of comfort, it’s not required if a patient prefers not to.
Where Do I Buy One?
If you’re interested in getting a palate expander, it’s easiest to start with a dental professional. That said, many states have laws that make it illegal for a dentist to perform something as invasive as expanding your palate without referral from an orthodontist.
Before you see either of these doctors, try doing some research on which brands of palates expanders are most popular with patients. When you visit your dentist or orthodontist, tell them about your goals—but be careful! Know that not every dentist has experience with palates expanders and that not every doctor will recommend them for every patient.
Other Uses for a Tongue Prop/Palate Expander:
Depending on your level of treatment, a tongue prop/palate expander can be used as part of speech therapy or occupational therapy, or both. (Depending on your area, you may receive these services from different specialists.)
A speech therapist works with you to use everyday activities—such as talking to friends or family members—to help improve your ability to speak correctly. Your speech therapist may also ask you to perform certain exercises that focus on strengthening muscles in your tongue.
For example, a common exercise is called airplane because patients have to form an O with their mouth while trying not to let their tongue touch their lower lip.
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