A palatal expander is best used in younger children, but can be done at varying ages. It “expands” (or widens) the upper jaw (maxilla) with daily activations (turns). It will correct posterior crossbites when the upper jaw is narrower than the lower jaw. Beneficial side-effects are decreased crowding, and even sometimes relief of symptoms of narrow airways (ex. snoring and mouth breathing). The visuals below will help remind you how to activate the expander. Once the desired expansion is achieved, the appliance will remain in the mouth an additional 6 months on average. This allows stabilization of the expansion. The video below shows Dr. Doug activating an expander. There is also a step by step diagram as well to help you. You can also download these instructions in a printable PDF document.
In a well-lit area, tip the patient’s head back.
Place the key in the hole until it is firmly in place.
Push the key toward the back of the mouth. You will notice the fender will rotate and the new hole will appear. The rotation stops when the key meets the back of the expander.
Press back and down toward the tongue to remove the key. The next hole for insertion of the key should now be visible.