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FAQ:  Orthodontist Palate Expanders

Jaw Expansion Appliance
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Palet expander average length of time to turn key: My 12 year old son had a palet expander put in 2 weeks ago.

Yesterday at the visit the Orthodontist said to keep turning the key once a day for the next month.

How long is too long to stretch the palet? Is this a normal time span? ... Visitor from PA

I usually turn about 7-14 days twice a day and I will see the patient back in a week just to check progress. This would equate to about 28 turns at the maximum, which is about the same for turning once a day for a month.

The objective of the expander is to rapidly split the suture in the roof of the mouth, which is not yet fused in a 12 year old child. This allows for pure skeletal expansion of the upper jaw and limit the amount of dental expansion.

Now, each turn of the palatal expander is approximately .25mm, so for you, after four days of turning, you will have expanded the palate about 1 mm and after one month about 7.5mm.

I am sure your orthodontist is knowledgeable to the point that he has estimated that your child needs this much expansion.

I will usually over expand the upper arch in anticipation that some of this expansion is going to relapse. I don't have a problem with expanding for that duration, but I just like to see them more often to check progress.

It has been my experience that many times parents are not turning the key properly. In my practice I would rather only lose a week of treatment time rather than a month.

Editorial Staff

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