What Is Expansion Plate?
An expansion plate is an appliance used to widen the upper jaw to create a broader and more attractive smile. This can also be used to correct any bite discrepancies caused by a narrowed upper jaw and create space in a crowded upper arch. It is Important that this treatment is sought after when the patient is quite young, as expansion plates work best whilst the jaw is still developing.
What Is Expansion In Dentistry?
Upper jaw expansion, known medically as maxilla expansion or palatal expansion, is an orthodontic treatment to correct misalignment, tooth overcrowding, breathing trouble, or other issues. Dentists or physicians may recommend this treatment when their patient is young.
An expansion plate, RME (rapid maxillary expander) or RPE (rapid palatal expander) is an appliance used to widen the upper jaw to create a broader and more attractive smile. This can also be used to correct any bite discrepancies caused by a narrowed upper jaw and create space in a crowded upper arch.
Types Of Orthodontic Palate Expanders
There are multiple types of palatal expanders that orthodontists use for different situations. In addition to the base models, all palate expanders can be modified with auxiliary features. This allows palatal expanders to be multifunctional and assist in correcting thumb habits, tongue thrusts, open bites, anterior crossbite and more. The most common ones are:
- Bonded expanders
- Hyrax expander
- Hass expander
- Quad Helix expander
How An Expansion Plate Is Made?
A removable palatal expander is used for mild to moderate cases when a patient only needs to expand the jaw a little. This type of expander looks like a Hawley retainer and is made out of acrylic or metal. Removable expanders work similarly to the RPE but are not bonded to the teeth.
Why Should You Go For Palate Expansion?
According to the Orthodontists, maxillary or palatal expansion is typically recommended when the patient is young because the treatment provides more room for new teeth. Palatal or maxillary expansion can treat the following issues:
- Correcting a crossbite: If the child has a narrow palate, their upper teeth can bite down inside the lower teeth, possibly leading to the lower jaw's asymmetrical growth.
- Eliminating or reducing overcrowding: Palatal expanders can make more space for the child's upper teeth as they grow.
- Improving breathing ability: Children with narrow or deep palates can have trouble breathing, especially while they sleep. Jaw expansion can increase space for air and clear the airway. Some children with sleep disorder can be good candidates for maxillary or palate expansion.
- Expanding the palate's width can accommodate the development of all the child's teeth, open up the nasal passages, and improve bite alignment.
How Does Jaw Or Palatal Expansion Work?
The palate has two halves that do not fully fuse until adulthood. The space between the sections can be gradually moved apart to encourage more bone to grow between those halves, making the jaw wider.
According to Orthodontics, crossbite and misalignment should ideally be treated before the child goes through their teenage growth spurt, but no younger than seven. If an adult is interested in correcting a crossbite or overcrowding, it is mandatory to consult with an orthodontist because there are other dental options for adults.
There are different palatal expansion options, including removable expanders for small adjustments, temporary expanders similar to having braces, and maxillary expansion surgery for more severe cases.
Pros and Cons for Orthodontic Palatal Expanders
Rapid expansion can cause some discomfort during treatment, especially during the first few days. The more severe the alignment issues, the more expensive treatment can be. However, correcting these issues now when the child is young will ensure their adult teeth are in the correct position and will save them expensive treatments later in life.
- Rapid Palatal Expander
The rapid palatal expander (RPE) is attached to the upper molars. The RPE will adjust to widen the gap over time by turning a screw in the device's centre. The adjustment places outward pressure on the palate's two halves, encouraging bone to grow between them. The child's orthodontist will decide how often to adjust the expander to promote faster or slower expansion. Sometimes orthodontists may adjust the expander once a week or even daily to get the best results.
- Removable Expanders
Removable expanders are similar to a retainer, except they put pressure on the molars from the roof of your mouth. Orthodontists may recommend removable jaw expanders when crossbite or misalignment is minimal. Removable expanders are also more comfortable for adults to wear.
Is Surgery Necessary To Expand The Upper Jaw?
Surgically assisted rapid palatal expansion (SARPE), or surgically assisted maxillary expansion (SAME), is used in cases where a device alone cannot accomplish the expansion the patient needs. The orthodontist and the oral or maxillofacial surgeon will work together to create a custom expander device for one’s child to wear after the surgery. The surgeon will separate the palate into multiple segments, encouraging bone to grow between those segments as your child wears the palate expander.
Temporary expander devices are most effective with younger patients than adults. Surgery is typically necessary for adults who did not get their crossbite or other alignment issues corrected during childhood. Your orthodontist will make the best recommendation for your situation.
Oral Care After Jaw Expansion
Dental hygiene is critical during and after upper jaw expansion. One should ensure that bacteria and food debris are cleared from around the expander device, especially if the child has undergone expansion surgery. Using toothpaste with fluoride and an antiseptic mouth rinse will ensure the child's mouth is healthy and healing during expansion. One should Speak with their dentist or orthodontist if one is interested in learning about palatal or jaw expansion options or other orthodontic care.