Palatal Expander

A palatal expander is meant to widen your upper jaw and teeth, and works by putting gentle pressure on the molars. The main reason patients are recommended a palatal expander is because a narrow upper jaw can cause bite issues when the upper and lower jaws aren’t correctly aligned. Palatal expanders can fix this issue in younger patients, and can only be done on those whose jaws haven’t fully developed.

So who needs a palate expander? Patients with several types of malocclusions may benefit from a palate expander. One type of issue we see is what’s called a crossbite, which happens when your upper jaw is too narrow, and causes your teeth to not align properly. We also see patients who have crowding of the teeth. If the jaw is too small, the teeth won’t all be able to fit correctly, which leads to crowding. A palatal expander can create more room for the teeth to grow. Similar to crowding, but more severe, we sometimes see patients with impacted teeth. An impacted tooth is one that has no room to come through the surface of the gums, and therefore gets impacted, or “stuck.” Impacted teeth may lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Adjusting the palatal expander

You can also download these instructions in a printable PDF document.


Step 1

In a well-lit area, tip the patient’s head back.


Step 2

Place the key in the hole until it is firmly in place.


Step 3

Push the key toward the back of the mouth. You will notice the fender will rotate and the new hole will appear. The rotation stops when the key meets the back of the expander.


Step 4

Press back and down toward the tongue to remove the key. The next hole for insertion of the key should now be visible.