Life With An Expander

During her time as an orthodontist, Dr. Lewis of KBL Orthodontics has met many patients and parents who were unsure about expanders because they knew little to no information about them! Whether you’re looking for a recap of what Dr. Lewis told you during your appointment or want just the basics of expanders, we’ve got you covered. We’re here to give you the information you need about life with an expander to help you make well-informed decisions for yourself and your family!

What is an expander?

An expander, also known as a palate expander, is a custom orthodontic device designed to widen the upper jaw, ensuring it harmonizes harmoniously with the lower jaw. They create space for other orthodontic appliances, such as metal braces or clear aligners, to work appropriately. Expanders work by applying pressure to both halves of the upper palate, gently forcing them apart. As your palate expands, new bone forms to fill in the new gap, making the expansion stable and permanent!

There are a few different kinds of palate expanders, their differences allowing Dr. Lewis to help as many patients in Dothan and surrounding areas as possible. Let’s look at some common options.

Removable Palate Expander

You might be a candidate for a removable palate expander if your palate only needs to be widened slightly. Patients with a removable palate expander must remember to clean them daily with toothpaste and a toothbrush. Unlike with other removable orthodontic appliances, you do not need to remove palate expanders when eating (though you should remove them for cleaning afterward).

Rapid Palate Expander

This expander separates the palate slightly faster than the other options, up to 0.5 millimeters in a day! This palate is not removable.

Surgically Assisted Rapid Palate Expander (SARPE)

SARPEs require surgical installation by an oral surgeon. These palate expanders are usually for patients with solidified bones or more complex cases.

Implant-Supported Palate Expander

This palate expander requires the installation of four dental implants into the maxillary bone by an oral surgeon or periodontist. The implants will make the expander put pressure directly on the bone instead of the teeth.

While a few palate expanders widen your teeth automatically, most require manually turning a screw once daily to enlarge the device. You will receive a special key to turn the screw in your expander.

KBL Orthodontics is giving you the information you need about life with an expander so you can make good decisions for you and your family!

What Is Life With An Expander Like?

Palate expanders play a pivotal role in orthodontics. They address crossbites, ensuring the upper and lower jaws align correctly. Creating space for crowded teeth paves the way for a more functional, attractive smile. Additionally, expanders enhance facial symmetry, promoting not just oral health but also boosting aesthetic appeal. In essence, they’re a foundational step towards achieving a picture-perfect smile. Like with most orthodontic appliances, you will need to make some adjustments to your day-to-day life.


Discomfort, especially after adjustments, is not uncommon. This sensation is a sign that the expander is doing its job. Over-the-counter pain relievers, as advised by Dr. Lewis, can help. Cold foods like ice cream or a cold compress can also offer relief.

If your palate requires surgery, you should expect additional side effects like bruising, swelling, and numbness. 


You will wear your expander when you eat and drink, even if it is removable. Because of this, chewing will likely take some practice when your expander is initially installed, but you can become a pro quickly if you follow the dietary guidelines. Avoiding hard, crunchy, and sticky food will make eating a more pleasant experience and minimize your risk of food breaking, sticking to, or otherwise damaging the device.


One of the initial hurdles many face is a temporary change in speech. Some words might sound different as the tongue adjusts to the new device. Practicing speaking slowly and reading aloud can help in regaining clarity faster. Soon, you will hardly notice the expander, and others won’t see a difference in your pronunciation.

Oral Hygiene

The expander creates new nooks and crannies where food particles can hide. Regular rinsing, brushing, and using an interdental brush can ensure the mouth remains clean. You must remember to brush your expander twice daily when brushing your teeth. We also recommend cleaning your removable expander after meal times. 

KBL Orthodontics is giving you the information you need about life with an expander so you can make good decisions for you and your family!

Find Out If Expanders Can Help You Achieve The Smile Of Your Dreams!

In the world of orthodontics, palate expanders are transformative tools, adeptly addressing alignment issues and paving the way for a radiant smile. While the journey with an expander involves adjustments and care, the result is undeniably worth it. 

Schedule your free consultation with KBL Orthodontics in Dothan, Alabama, today to determine if you or your child need a palate expander. At your appointment, you will receive a detailed explanation of your or your child’s treatment program and why the recommended steps are necessary.
If you have any questions before your appointment, don’t hesitate to contact us or follow us on Instagram to get to know us better!