Maxillary Expansion Appliances

The maxillary expansion appliance is an orthodontic/orthopedic appliance used to widen the upper jaw. It is frequently used while the patient is still growing, in order to give the palate an appropriate shape and width, and improve or correct crossbites or crowding.

Expanders can be fixed or removable and are used for approximately 6 to 8 months. We will provide the appropriate instructions on how to activate the expander and they will monitor the progress of the expansion periodically.

Compassionate care for your little one

Be prepared to see a space open up between the front upper teeth. This gap is to be expected as the palate will be widening with each activation. Typically, the space closes by itself or as the permanent teeth continue to come in.

Situations that call for maxillary expansion appliances

  1. Crossbite — When a child’s upper jaw is too narrow to fit correctly with the lower jaw, the back top teeth will bite inside of the lower teeth instead of outside. This can be corrected by expanding the upper jaw.
  2. Impacted Teeth — When a tooth that hasn’t come in (erupted) yet and is blocked by other teeth, widening the upper jaw can allow it to erupt into proper position on its own. This most often happens with canine or eye teeth — the pointier ones located directly under the eyes.
  3. Crowding — Even before all of a child’s permanent (adult) teeth come in, we can tell when there will not be enough room to accommodate them. Widening the upper jaw can create the necessary space without the need for extractions.

How do expanders work

An expander is custom-made for each individual and fits over several top teeth in the back of the mouth.

The maxillary expansion appliance has two halves that are connected in the middle with a screw. To activate the device, you simply turn the screw a very small amount each day with a special key.

This induces tension at the junction of the two palatal bones, causing them to gradually move apart.

Once the desired expansion is achieved, we will leave the appliance in for a few more months to allow new bone to form in the gap and stabilize the expansion.

The expanders are worn for 3-6 months altogether.

What to expect

There can be some soreness or a feeling of pressure for a few minutes after the key is turned, but activating an expander actually causes less discomfort than having braces tightened.

Your child may find that speaking and eating feels different at first as the tongue adjusts to the presence of the appliance.

It is also completely normal to see a gap develop between the front teeth. This shows that the expander is having the desired effect.

Your child’s permanent teeth will be beautifully aligned with neither too much nor too little space between them.

Meet Our Doctors


Dr Gitonga Ndirangu graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) from the University of Nairobi in 2013. He is currently pursuing his Postgraduate Degree in Periodontology & Implant Dentistry.


Dr. Meera Shah graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) from Moi University in 2014. She specializes in routine dentistry, endodontics, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry.


Dr. Frankline Kidula graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) from the University of Nairobi in 2012. He is currently pursuing his Postgraduate Degree in orthodontics.


Dr. Johnson Mwangi graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery ( BDS) from the University of Nairobi in 1991. An MBA (Stratgic Management) in 2006 and a post graduate diploma in Oral Implantology from the University of Pretoria and New York University.

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