Can Invisalign Provide Enough Expansion to Increase Nasal Passage Airway?

Can invisalign provide enough expansion to actually increase the airway of the nasal passage way in minor cases? I am a 20 year old male. If not, will a palate expander be able to provide some bone widening of the upper jaw?

I have read numerous times that this is not possible in adults without surgery. However, I have also read many adults have had success with palate expanders and I was wondering what the truth of this is. I have attached a picture so you can get an idea of where I am now

Doctor Answers 5

Expansion of upper jaw needs Functional Facial Orthopedics

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I am glad you asked this question.  I am also glad you did enough research to even be able to ask the question.  There is much confusion and misinformation about the real answer.  The traditional thinking in orthodontics is that surgery is necessary once a person becomes a teenager because the palatal bone has been believed to fuse into one bone, however that is not the case and techniques I have used over the last twenty five years have proven otherwise.  I will give you a brief answer here, but will provide more information if you would care to contact me. 

The short answer is this:  Invisalign will give some expansion, but it is primarily alveolar bone expansion, which is the bone that surrounds the teeth.  What you need to influence the nasal passageway is true expansion of the palatal bone structures, since that bone not only is the roof of the mouth, but the floor of the nasal passageway as well.  Functional Facial Orthopedics (aka Dentofacial Orthopedics) using slow palatal expansion techniques with removable appliances can expand the palatal bones to accomplish this at any age.  I will soon have a book released (called Straight Talk about Crooked Teeth) to the public which explains this in detail.  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.

In your case, no

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In your case don't expect improvement in your breathing from expansion.

Most definitely expanding the upper jaw can improve nasal air flow. There is not enough research to show that expansion with Invisalign will help breathing. The most likely answer will be no.

Expansion with a jack screw, especially with young people, has shown improvement in breathing through the nose.

Expansion with a jack screw with adults can be done but only with someone who has experience and close monitoring is required. It doesn't always work with adults.

I don't feel expansion of the upper jaw should be done just to improve the breathing. It is a side benefit for someone who already needs expansion. A narrow arch is already there for another reason. That other reason is many times caused by not being able to breath through the nose because of large adenoids, allergies and other reasons.

You really don't need much expansion anyway. What expansion you may need could be accomplished with Invisalign.

Gilbert H. Snow, DDS
Encino Orthodontist

Breathe Better with Palatal Expansion

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Research has shown that palatal expansion can add more surface area to the nasal cavity therefore  increasing breathing efficiency. Palatal expansion is best achieved in pre-teens before puberty begins. Invisalign does not exert enough force to achieve skeletal palate expansion.

Matt T. Walton, DMD
Suwanee Orthodontist

Invisalign and palate widening

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You mention a need for increasing the nasal airway.  It is true that widening the palate may increase the nasal airway.  However, Invisalign will not accomplish this to any measurable degree.  At your age the palate is one continuous bone and pushing on the teeth does not change the dimensions of the bone in a side to side direction; it merely pushes the teeth through the bone.  A palate expander can increase the side to side dimension of the palate in a younger child because up to age 13 to15 the palate is in two pieces.  This means that a palate expander will probably not increase the nasal airway in someone your age either.  A surgical procedure can be done in conjunction with a palate expander which simply divides the palate in half to allow the expander to increase in width much like in a younger person.

Brian Povolny, DDS, PhD
Seattle Orthodontist

Can invisalign widen nasal passages

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Neither Invisalign nor braces can widen nasal passages, especially in adults.  As to the ability of a palatal expander to widen the palate without surgery on an adult, I would certainly think this is not really possible.  Sorry to say only surgery can help this problem!

Robert Waxler, DMD, MS
Saint Louis Orthodontist

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.