What is the crack you hear when turning a palette expander?

Come morning time, your little bundle of joy awakens from his or her slumber and begins the morning routine of the day: flossing, brushing, and turning the key on the expander when… crack! What is that?

The palatal expander is a device used to widen the upper jaw so the bottom and upper teeth will fit better together. It works by expanding the roof of the mouth and upper jaw. Some conditions that may be treated with a palatal expander are:

  • Teeth Crowding
  • Posterior Crossbite
  • Impacted Teeth
  • Breathing Problems

By implementing the palatal expander, your child may experience a better bite, better teeth alignment by creating space for teeth to grow in, and widened air passages making breathing easier.

If your child is being treated with a palatal expander, your pediatric dentist or orthodontist probably gave you and your child specific instructions on how to use and care for the expander during the treatment. This can be daunting at first, but once a routine has begun, it isn’t too difficult to get a handle of. To turn your expander, follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Tip the patient’s head back. Make sure you’re in a well-lit area and you are able to see the palatal expander clearly.
Step 2: Locate the hole in which the key will be placed, and gently insert the key into the hole until it is firmly in place.
Step 3. Pushing the key toward the back of the mouth, notice the screw will rotate and the new hole appears. The rotation will stop when the key meets the back of the expander.
Step 4. By pushing back down toward the tongue, remove the key. The next hole for insertion of the key should now be visible.

If you experience a crack or hear a noise, check your appliance for any defects. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort after hearing a crack or recognize an abnormality with the appliance, contact your orthodontist for further inspection and to confirm that the crack is nothing too serious. If you are unable to reach your orthodontist or schedule an appointment in a timely manner, orthodontists, including our Dr. Gladwell, recommend purchasing dental wax to lessen the discomfort until you’re able to meet with your orthodontist.

Palatal expanders are a commonly used appliance in the orthodontic industry that can assist immensely with creating room and the alignment of incoming teeth. Follow up with your orthodontist with any questions, concerns, or trouble experienced with the appliance.