Is a Palate Expander Painful in Elementary School?

The goal of a palate expander is to widen someone’s mouth. This helps if the teeth are crowded or a patient has a crossbite. Specifically, a palate expander splits the upper jaw with every turn and the bone that exists fills in. After the expander is attached to the upper molars, it slowly pushes the upper jaw to expand. The expander has to be tightened every day or so at home by using a key. Tightening the expander at first can cause pain or discomfort. Routine tightenings are meant to occur so that the expander can do its job, so you can expect for these moments to be more painful than others since you do get used to it. One benefit, among the others of having a palate expander in elementary school is that it makes having braces in middle school a piece of cake!

When it is first secured in your mouth, it is a weird feeling. In fact, it may feel a bit painful. It may feel like heavy pressure or just different overall. With braces, the soreness becomes normal on your teeth, but the expander is widening the upper jaw and with every tightening, or making the expander wider, you may not ever get fully used to it.

Eating food can be a difficult task when you have an expander in your mouth. At first, it is suggested to eat foods that do not require much chewing such as yogurt. Once you get more used to the expander, you may try to experiment with more “normal” foods and come to realize that food will tend to get stuck in it. This is why the small brushes the orthodontist will give you can be so helpful. The brushes will help to remove food particles and other debris that is wedged in the expander.


As someone who had a palate expander in elementary school, I have personally experienced the side effects palate expanders often bring. Some of these side effects include headaches, speech challenges, extra saliva, discomfort in the tongue, pressure, and space between the front teeth.

Fortunately, there are ways to make the side effects tolerable. Here is some advice your child should consider if they’re getting an expander or recently got one. Firstly, try to stock up on yogurt, mashed potatoes, soup, and other healthy and delicious soft foods and liquids. This way, they’ll receive the nutrients they need without experiencing much pain while eating.

While eating, they should make an effort to take small bites and chew very slowly. If they are eating out, it’s a good idea for them to bring a tiny toothbrush so that they can visit the bathroom and brush out any food particles that are stuck in their expander and teeth. Perhaps, even a small syringe can also help to flush out any food particles stuck in the expander.

Your child must follow their orthodontist’s advice on how often to turn their expander. They may need to turn it once a day or a few times a day depending on their particular degree of expansion. If their schedule prevents them from turning their expander on time, they should contact their orthodontist immediately.

Lastly, to help reduce discomfort and inflammation after they turn their expander, they should take some Advil or another over-the-counter pain medication a half hour before they turn. Your child can also relax and apply some ice to their cheeks to help alleviate the pain. Additionally, maybe the occasional ice cream treat or or cool beverage can help to make your child feel better after they’ve turned their expander!

It is a very beneficial device though, because had I not had one, my mouth would have been too narrow to fit all of my teeth and there would have been many more issues. It was, however, one of the best feelings getting the palate expander taken out. When seeking an orthodontist in Raleigh that can offer this service, contact Gladwell Orthodontics today.

If your son or daughter attends an elementary school in Wake Forest, Raleigh, Henderson, Louisburg or Franklinton contact us today as we have an orthodontist office located in Wake Forest that can assist your child with any orthodontic concern or issue they may have. We will go above and beyond to take the necessary steps to make the palate expander as painless as possible. We are also available to answer any questions you may have related to the discomfort your child is feeling as it relates to this appliance.

Some of the elementary and middle schools in and around Wake Forest include:

  • Heritage Elementary
  • Jones Dairy Elementary
  • Pleasant Union Elementary
  • North Forest Pines Elementary
  • Franklin Academy
  • Youngsville Elementary
  • Wake Forest Elementary
  • Wakefield Middle
  • St Catherine of Siena Catholic School
  • Thales Academy of Wake Forest
  • Wake Forest Middle School
  • Heritage Middle School

If your son or daughter goes to any of these middle schools and you are exploring options for braces, Invisalign or any other dental treatment, please feel free to contact Gladwell Orthodontics today. If they are suffering from a painful palate expander call us today and we can offer remedies and options to reduce this pain.

In the New Year, we hope to see many new young faces so that we’ll have the pleasure of treating these orthodontic needs!


Many parents are looking for an affordable way to straighten their children’s teeth. If you are planning on a potential palate expander in 2020, remember that the treatment is not the same for every patient. We advise that you please call us today at (919) 453-6325 so we can set up a free consultation for your son or daughter to discuss cost in 2020. This will allow us to make a professional assessment as to the treatment that is correct for your child. It may even be the case that your son or daughter does not need a palate expander at all.