A palatal expander is an orthodontic device used to widen the palate or upper jaw. An abnormally narrow palate can cause problems like crowding or a cross bite and therefore needs treatment. The upper jaw consists of two halves that don’t completely fuse until the child has reached their early or mid-teens, which makes it possible for the orthodontist to use the palatal expander to force the two halves apart.
The expander, which looks a bit like a retainer, consists of two halves with a screw hole in between them. The child or their parent inserts a key into the screw hole and turns it to widen the expander. The expander widens the distance between the two halves and causes new bone to grow and close the gap.
Palatal expanders can correct some bite problems, and they can also prepare a child for further orthodontic treatment. Most children wear them for three to six months. When it comes down seeing an orthodontist vs dentist for palatal expander treatment, this is usually done at an orthodontist’s office.
Orthodontist vs Dentist: What is the Difference?
Both dentists and orthodontists have medical degrees and handle oral health. Dentistry, however, is a broad medical discipline, while orthodontics is a specialty within that discipline. In other words, all orthodontists are also dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists.
Just as a surgeon is a doctor who undergoes further training after getting the MD, an orthodontist is a dentist who also gets extra training. Regarding orthodontist vs dentist education, both go to dental school and get degrees. While a general dentist begins their practice, however, the orthodontist undertakes two more years of training.
A dentist handles overall dental care, and they work with teeth, gums, jaws and neighboring nerves. They can provide services related to root canals, cavities, gum disease, teeth whitening, crowns and veneers. They also provide check-ups and educate patients about how to take better care of their teeth.
An orthodontist specializes in straightening teeth. They treat patients with overbites, underbites, crossbites, crowded teeth and temporomandibular disorders. Orthodontists also treat some jaw problems, and they fit patients with orthodontic devices.
Can a General Dentist Offer Palatal Expanders?
Technically, palatal expanders are considered an orthodontic appliance. Therefore, they are typically offered by orthodontists. In sum, a general dentist could hypothetically offer palatal expanders, but an orthodontist is more likely to have the training and experience. The wisest course of action is to visit Ragan Orthodontics. We have three offices located in the Dallas area. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more about how a palatal expander can benefit your child.