At Ahava Orthodontics in Fort Worth, we understand that every smile is unique and sometimes, achieving a healthy, beautiful smile requires more than just braces. One effective orthodontic device we often utilize is the palatal expander. Designed to widen the upper jaw, a palatal expander can play a crucial role in correcting crossbites and making room for overcrowded teeth. This guide aims to demystify palatal expanders, explaining their purpose, how they work, and what patients can expect during treatment.

What is a Palatal Expander?

A palatal expander is an orthodontic appliance used primarily in children and adolescents while their jaws are still growing. The device fits over several top teeth in the back of the mouth and applies gentle pressure to gradually widen the upper jaw.

The Need for Palatal Expansion

Crossbites and Overcrowding: The upper jaw, or maxilla, forms the roof of the mouth and can sometimes be too narrow, causing a crossbite or leaving insufficient space for permanent teeth to erupt correctly. Over time, a narrow upper jaw can lead to uneven wear on teeth, difficulty chewing, or even speech issues.

Facial Symmetry and Aesthetics: Beyond functional concerns, a narrow upper jaw can affect facial symmetry and aesthetics. Palatal expansion can help create a more balanced appearance by aligning the upper jaw with the lower jaw.

Palatal Expanders in Fort Worth

How Palatal Expanders Work

Palatal expanders work by exploiting the natural growth potential of the jaw. The human skull has a suture in the middle of the palate that doesn’t fully fuse until after puberty. The expander applies gentle, consistent pressure on this suture, encouraging it to widen. This widening helps correct crossbites and creates more space in the mouth for teeth to align properly.

The Treatment Process

Initial Fitting: The process begins with a visit to Ahava Orthodontics, where impressions of the mouth are taken to create a custom-fit device. Once ready, the expander is placed and secured over the molars.

Adjustment Phase: The key feature of a palatal expander is a central screw that is turned at regular intervals to apply pressure. This adjustment is usually done by the parents or patients themselves, following specific instructions from their orthodontist regarding frequency and duration.

Monitoring Progress: Regular follow-up visits to our office allow us to monitor the expansion progress and adjust the treatment plan as necessary.

What to Expect

Sensation: Patients may feel pressure during adjustments, but this sensation typically subsides quickly. Some may experience a minor discomfort or a temporary increase in saliva flow.

Speech and Eating: Initially, patients might find their speech slightly altered or eating a bit challenging, but these issues generally improve as they adjust to the expander.

Duration: The active phase of expansion varies but often lasts a few months, after which the expander remains in place for an additional period to stabilize the expansion.

Aftercare and Long-Term Results

Following palatal expansion, further orthodontic treatment, such as braces, may be necessary to align the teeth into their optimal positions. Long-term, the benefits of palatal expansion can include improved bite function, enhanced aesthetics, and a decrease in the risk of dental crowding.

Why Choose Ahava Orthodontics for Palatal Expansion

Choosing the right team for your orthodontic care is essential. At Ahava Orthodontics, Dr. Andy and Shawne Barron bring extensive experience in palatal expansion and comprehensive orthodontic care. Our commitment to using the latest technologies and personalized treatment plans ensures that each patient achieves the best possible outcome with comfort and care.


Palatal expanders are a powerful tool in orthodontics, offering a solution to several common dental issues. If you believe your child may benefit from palatal expansion or have concerns about their dental development, the team at Ahava Orthodontics is here to help. Contact us at (817) 996-9777 to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can assist in achieving a healthy, beautiful smile for your child.