Palatal distraction is a surgical procedure that consists of enlarging the upper jaw.
It is performed as part of an orthodontic treatment.
During your first appointment with your orthodontist and after analyzing of your case, he will have noticed that the misalignment of the teeth is not only related to the teeth but also to the jaws. A jaw may be too far forward or too far back and / or too narrow.
In the case of an upper jaw that is too narrow and facial growth is complete, it is necessary to perform palatal distraction to restore a normal relationship between the jaws and the teeth. This is needed in order to have a stable orthodontic result over time. Indeed, if the jaw is too narrow and you do orthodontic treatment without palatal distraction, the teeth may re-move afterwards.
By restoring a normal relationship between the jaws, this intervention will also improve the functions: chewing food, breathing, phonation but also reduce the risk of wear of teeth and reduce stress on the joints of the jaw (called temporomandibular joints).
In addition to acting on these essential functions, this intervention will also allow to harmonize the contours of the face.
How is the surgery done?
Surgery is done under general anesthesia. The palatal distractor is placed on the palate at the height of the premolars. Then, an incision is made at the level of the gum above the teeth under the upper lip. There is no incision in the skin. We thus arrive at the level of the maxillary bone where 3 incisions are made at the level of the cortical bone. The operation of the distractor is checked then the incision of the mucosa is closed with the aid of resorbable stiches which leaves moreover at least two weeks.
Activation of the palatal distractor:
5 days after the procedure, the distractor should be activated once or twice a day (depending on your surgeon’s instructions). This is a crucial step in the treatment that is performed by the patient himself or by a relative. A small key must be placed in the center of the distractor and down from top to bottom. This gesture must be repeated until a new color appears at the level of the distractor (there are 3 small rounds of colors: blue, yellow and red). Once a week during this daily activation, you will come for a control at Dr. Oth’s practice who will verify that the activation is going well.