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Troubleshooting Palatal Expanders

Feb 19, 2014 | Treatment Advancements

Palatal Expander Troubleshooting

Palatal Expander

We’ve had quite a few parents asking about palatal expanders recently. During the delivery appointment, there’s a lot of information provided and even though we walk every parent through turning the expansion screw, oral hygiene instructions and the do’s and don’ts of orthodontic treatment, it’s handy to have a quick reference once you get home.

1. I can’t find the hole for the expander key.

The holes for the expander key may be difficult to see, but they are there! It is easiest to see the appliance while sitting on the couch with the child’s head in your lap, and having a helper with a flashlight can be very useful until you get the hang of it. Sometimes the appliance screw can turn backward. In that case, the hole may be further back on the appliance. To correct this, insert the key in the hole facing the back of the expander and push it in the direction of the arrow (toward the throat) until the next hole is visible at the front of the appliance.

2. How do you turn the expander?

You should be able to see the hole for the expander key at the front of the appliance. Insert the key carefully into the hole and push gently to make sure the key is fully inserted. Push the key in the direction of the arrow (toward the back of the mouth) until the next key hole is visible. It is very important that you turn the key in the right direction to keep treatment moving forward and minimize discomfort. Remove the key by gently pulling the key directly downward without turning the screw.

3. One of the bands is loose.

This rarely happens. But if the appliance is loose, it is important to stop activating and contact our office as soon as possible for an appointment, and keep the area clean. We will need to check the appliance and possibly re-cement it. If the appliance comes out completely, be sure to bring it to the appointment!


As always, if you have any questions or treatment, be sure to contact us at 661-829-7970. We’re here for you!

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