Palatal Expanders


Early Orthodontic Treatment in Tacoma, WA

At Douglas Knight Orthodontics, our mission is to help patients throughout Tacoma, WA and the surrounding areas achieve beautiful, healthy smiles through comprehensive orthodontic treatment. Our Tacoma orthodontist, Dr. Douglas J. Knight, works individually with patients to create customized treatment plans, ensuring that orthodontics fits into your busy lifestyle. We're proud to treat patients of all ages at our office, and sometimes, that treatment has to start early. With the use of a specialized orthodontic appliance called a palatal expander, we can use interceptive orthodontics to correct bite issues early on that are much more difficult to treat later in life. 

What Do Palatal Expanders Treat?

Palatal expanders are retainer-like appliances used during early orthodontic treatment that can correct a number of malocclusions, or "bad bites." Crucially, palatal expanders can treat malocclusions that have to do with problems in a child's underlying bone structure. By treating children early in life, we can influence the growth and development of the jaws to create more space in the mouth and prevent certain malocclusions from forming– a process that could require orthodontic surgery if attempted later in life. 

Palatal expanders are used to treat three main types of malocclusion:

  • Crossbite: Crossbite occurs when the upper jaw is too narrow, causing the upper teeth to sit inside the lower teeth when the mouth is closed.
  • Crowding: Crowding is caused by insufficient room in the dental arch, causing the teeth to grow in crooked and out of alignment.
  • Impacted Teeth: This happens when an unerupted tooth is blocked by another tooth, causing the tooth to grow in crooked or fail to erupt.

How Do Palatal Expanders Work?

During childhood, the upper jaw isn't actually a single bone--the left and right halves are separate, and they don't fuse together until early adolescence. Palatal expanders are essentially a retainer with a screw in the middle that can be adjusted to widen the palatal expander. During treatment, your Tacoma orthodontist will carefully adjust the screw to place outward pressure on the two halves the jaw, pushing them apart and stimulating new bone to grow in the middle. In effect, this lets us gradually and painlessly widen the upper jaw, creating more room in the mouth and treating many difficult malocclusions. The process normally takes 3-6 months and requires periodic adjustments, but overall, it's a simple, pain-free treatment. 

Schedule a Consultation with Your Tacoma, WA Orthodontist

Palatal expanders are a powerful treatment that lets us treat malocclusions conveniently and painlessly. If you think your child might benefit from palatal expansion, we'd be thrilled to help. Contact us today to learn more about palatal expanders or simply request a consultation online to get started. We can't wait to hear from you, and we look forward to helping your child achieve a beautiful new smile!