A narrow palate is the most common cause of crowded teeth. A child with a narrow palate that doesn’t widen sufficiently before adult teeth start to come in can end up with a mouthful of teeth that are crowded together, misaligned, or crooked. Later in life, the orthodontist may consider braces to help straighten teeth, but if the teeth are too crowded, he may need to take special action to widen the palate before undertaking orthodontic corrections.
At ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics in Happy Valley, Clackamas, Oregon, orthodontist Dr. Gary Chapman offers palate expanders to gently help change the shape of your or your child’s jaw, making room for teeth to line up evenly for a beautiful smile.
3 reasons to worry about crowded teeth
Besides the obvious problem of self-confidence or self-esteem issues that can accompany crowded teeth, there are additional dangers to having teeth that don’t properly line up.
1. Hygiene issues
Crowded teeth can make it much more difficult to brush and floss effectively. If the teeth are so tightly crammed together that floss can’t be worked between them, that doesn’t mean bacteria can’t sneak into the crevices and cause decay. Cavities between crowded teeth can cause serious damage and be difficult to repair.
2. Gum disease
Crowded teeth that prevent proper hygiene also lead to gum disease. There’s the issue of bacteria staying caught between the teeth near the gumline spreading to underneath the gums. Additionally, pressure from crowded teeth pressing against each other can cause inflammation of the gums. The end result is often gum disease, which can severely damage oral health and lead to bone and tooth loss.
3. A misaligned bite
When your teeth are crowded and crooked, not every tooth is in the correct space to do its share of the task of biting and chewing. This means other teeth have to pick up the slack, causing uneven wear. A misaligned bite can also cause breathing and sleeping problems, or pain in your jaw, neck, and/or head.
How expanders fix narrow palate issues
Palate expanders are devices that attach to the back molars and curve inside the arch of teeth, sitting against the palate. They exert slow, steady pressure on the jaw to encourage the palate to widen. It typically takes about nine months for the palate to widen sufficiently.
Once the palate is wider, Dr. Chapman can deploy orthodontic options to correctly space teeth and straighten any that are crooked or misaligned. Both children whose adult teeth are coming in while their jaw is still too narrow and adults who have crowded teeth due to a narrow jaw can be fitted with expanders to widen their palate.
Additional advantages of expanders include helping alleviate narrowed sinus passages and adjust jaw positioning, which often helps to resolve snoring or sleep apnea. Expanding the jaw can also help treat temporomandibular jaw disorder, which causes the jaw to click or lock.
Want to know more about palate expanders? Schedule a consultation by calling 503-659-5000 or by requesting an appointment online.