What is the Difference Between Invisalign Expansion and the Use of a Palate Expander?

Can invisalign expand, albeit not as significant, in the same manner as a palate expander in a 20 year old or above? Or does a palate expander act in a different manner than invisalign in the process of expansion? My idea right now is that invisalign expands the same as a palate expander would except not nearly as fast or perhaps as significant, please let me know what the correct answer is... I really appreciate the help!

Doctor Answers 7

Invisalign can give some expansion but Slow Palatal Expansion with a removable appliance can give much more

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Let me explain the difference of expansion with Invisalign and true palatal expansion.  Invisalign will give some expansion, but it is primarily alveolar bone expansion, which is the bone that surrounds the teeth.  It is my opinion that this can give a fuller smile and make a non-extraction treatment more possible than will braces alone.  However,  Functional Facial Orthopedics (aka Dentofacial Orthopedics) using slow palatal expansion techniques with removable appliances can expand the palatal bones to get true palatal expansion at any age. This will give the fullest expansion and will even positively effect nasal breathing capacity. Then using Invisalign or braces can accomplish the best results in terms of the full movie star smile and an overall better functional result.  I will soon have a book released (called Straight Talk about Crooked Teeth) to the public which explains this in detail.  This is a controversial subject as we orthodontists were trained differently and most still believe surgery is necessary to accomplish this when the patient is a teen or older.  However, this is not true.   Most of the before after cases I show on this RealSelf site take advantage of using Functional Facial Orthopedics to accomplish the results shown.  Good luck.

Palate expansion with Invisalign

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

In order to expand the palate at any age the expanding appliance must be firmly atttached to the teeth.  An orthodontic palatal expander is firmly glued to the teeth so any force it exerts is transferred to the bone through the tooth roots.  Even with a rigid glued-on appliance like a palatal expander there is a minor tendency for the teeth to tip, which is acceptable because it is minimal.  Invisalign is not glued to the teeth at all and if one tries to expand the palate with Invisalign the teeth will simply tip outward.  So trying to expand the palate with Invisalign has a low probabililty of success. 

Brian Povolny, DDS, PhD
Seattle Orthodontist

Invisalign Can Expand, But Not like a Palatal expander

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Invisalign is tradtionally used for adults to straighten their teeth. When crowding is present one of the modalities we use to gain space is expanding the jaw by tilting the teeth. Palatal expansion in adults is not possible unless the SARPE (surgically assisted removable palatal expander) method is used. This involves a surgical procedure where the palate is separated. In children where they are still growing palatal expansion is possible with an expander and NO surgery because their bones are not fused yet. Expansion in adults can be done but must be done with caution because too much expansion can lead to severe recession of your gumline. 


Expansion: Invisalign vs Palatal Expander

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Before we get any further lets define the type of expansion possible in a growing person versus that possible in a non-growing person. At puberty, skeletal growth ceases in most cases, expansion of the palate (palatal bones) is not possible due to the fusion of the palatal sutures. Any expansion achieved, in a non-growing person is usually the result of tipping (dental expansion) the teeth outwards or forward (front teeth). This kind of tooth movement is not always desirable. In growing individuals, on the other hand, expansion of the palate can be achieved routinely with a variety of expansion devices. Palatal expansion devices exert large forces to the teeth and supporting structures. Generally, palatal expansion yields more significant amounts of expansion than mere tipping of teeth.  Palatal expansion in a growing person also provides more stable results than tipping movements.

In reference to above, Invisalign does not exert enough force to achieve skeletal expansion. Invisalign can only achieve a limited amount of dental expansion. If you are an adult requiring a significant amount of expansion, surgically assisted expansion may be required. 

Matt T. Walton, DMD
Suwanee Orthodontist

Invisalign not as effective as a palatal expander

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

A palatal expander works best in children before their bones have totally fused (usually late teens, early 20s).  Invisalign will not expand your palate at all, especially since it doesn't sit on the palate at all.  Invisalign works best at tipping the teeth in or out, which gives the illusion that there has been expansion, but not in the same way that a true palatal expander would work. 

Gerilyn Alfe, DMD
Chicago Dentist

Expansion Orthodontic/ Orthopedics; The DNA Appliance and Epigenetic Orthodontics to the Rescue

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Expansion Orthodontics/ Orthopedics should ideally be done between ages of 3 and 8.  Unfortunately many children who could benefit from expansion are never diagnosed or treated.

Small maxillas effect our appearance but they also increase risk of ADD, ADHD, Sleep Apnea, Snoring, TMJ disorders, migraines and chronic daily headaches.  Ideally to prevent ADD and ADHD treatment should be as early as possible.

As we age expansion becomes more problematic.  For many adults the SARPE procedure used to be the only treatment optin.  The SARPE procedure is Rapid Palatal Expansion with a Surgical Assist.

The DNA Appliance and Epigenetic Orthodontics / Orthopedics has given patients an easy affordable option to improve esthetics and physiological health.  It is now possible to non-surgically expand  the maxilla in adults.

The DNA Appliance has been shown in clinical cases to "CURE" sleep apnea.  Large clinical studies are  in the works.

Ira L Shapira DDS
Diplomate, American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine
Diplomat, American Acdemy of Pain Management
Regent & Fellow, International College of CranioMandibular Orthopedics
Chair, American Alliance of TMD Organizations

The difference is...

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

A palatal expansion appliance is much more powerful and can expand the bone of the maxilla.  Invisalign is very limited in its capability to expand an arch and it almost never involves the jaw bone itself.

Daniel W. Schiavone, DDS
Rochester Dentist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.