Maxillary Expansion and Increased Airway

Generally speaking, when people think about going to the orthodontist, they think about getting braces. They don’t generally think about all of the complex knowledge that goes into having those braces put in. Orthodontists actually have to know a great deal about the anatomy of the mouth and airways in order to properly do their job. Maxillary expansion and the resulting increased airway are part of what the orthodontists need to know about before they actually work with you.

Maxillary expansion, also known as rapid palatal expansion is classified as a preliminary treatment procedure that is meant to enlarge the maxillary dental arch, as well as the palate, or roof of the mouth. This is done in order to reestablish the balance between the width of the jaws. This procedure is needed when the upper jaw is too narrow in comparison to the lower jaw, which often leads to a deviation of the lower jaw and an abnormal dental relationship within the mouth. If someone’s jaw is too narrow, the airway that is located above the nasal cavity can actually be limited. The procedure can make it easier for air to flow within the nasal cavity, so that the patient will be able to breathe more easily through the nose. Additionally, the expansion could create more available space for the orthodontist to be able to straighten out any crowded teeth that are there. Very often, this procedure is performed at an early age, as problems in the jaw with are typically visible in patients early on and will not fix themselves over the course of time. However, it is important to keep in mind that a second phase of treatment will often be required when the permanent teeth have all come out. This procedure is not meant to correct the positions of teeth but simply to create a better width when it comes to the jaws.

The relationship between maxillary expansion and the size of the airway has been shown in a few different studies. In a 2008 study, rapid maxillary expansion was shown to reduce mean increases in palatal volume and area, as well as intramolar distance. However, nasal airway resistance was actually reduced. There were mean increases in the nasal valve area and total nasal volume. However, the long-term findings were slightly different. Over the long term, the mean palatal area and intermolar distance went down, while the palatal volume was stable. Additionally, nasal airway resistance was shown to be stable, while the minimal cross-sectional area was increased and the mean nasal cavity volume was increased. The majority of the subjects reported an improvement in nasal respiration as a result of maxillary expansion.

If you come to Cochran Orthodontics, you can learn all about what maxillary expansion can do and whether it will be able to help you. Dr. Devin S. Cochran has all the expertise necessary to be able to answer your questions. Dr. Cochran is a very well-qualified San Antonio orthodontist, located in the city of San Antonio, TX.