Palate Expander Key- The Ultimate Guide

Palate expander key is a common problem for most patients who are willing to go through the upper jaw expansion treatment.

Palatal expander is an orthodontic appliance used to widen the two halves of the upper jaw, this device is mostly known with children but it can also be used in teens and adults.

How To Turn Palate Expander Key ?

palate expander key
Turn your palate expander key

To rotate the palate expander key, the patient will need some help from someone, because it will be a little hard to see the hole and push the key toward the back of the mouth.

After he places the tool in the back of his mouth, the orthodontist will give him a key, you probably should have him lie down on a bed in a place with good lighting, gently tilt him back and open his mouth to notice the appliance and insert/push that key toward the back of the mouth into the upper hole until it’s on site.

When you can’t notice the bend in center of the palate expander key, it means the key is fully inserted, now you will have to apply a little amount of pressure to rotate and tighten expander with key by pushing it in the correct direction toward the back of the mouth to complete a 90 degrees turn.

Notice that while you rotate the fender, a new hole will appear and the rotation stops when the key meets the back of the palatal expander.

Removing The Key:

Push the expander key toward the back and down the roof to the tongue while applying some tension to completely remove the key, you will notice that the new hole will appear on top back of the mouth for insertion. Your doctor then will give you instructions on how many turns you will have to achieve before the next meeting.

How to turn palate expander key – source


After doing the measures of your mouth jaws, an image will be sent back to the laboratory where they will design your custom palatal expander that fits perfectly to your mouth.

Notice that the special key will be provided with the tool as it’s extremely necessary to push it toward the hole and rotate the appliance so it can function correctly.  


Patients will notice that they lost the key during the treatment period, because they can’t always remember when they hide it every single day, so they started asking questions about palate expander key replacement.

You will have to contact your dentist and ask him for a new key and he will simply provide you with a new one, but if you can’t go to the office for any reason, use a paperclip, it will perform the same function as the key in a pinch.

using paper clp as palate expander key

Just straighten the paperclip and shape it to be at the right angle for making the adjustment and here we go, you got back your new key replacement.

Notice that this trick is only for emergency situations and you will get your new key as soon as your doctor reach back to you.

Where to push the key ? I can’t locate the hole

A reason why the palate expander key won’t rotate is that sometimes when people used to rotate the appliance, they don’t totally rotate it even if they think they did but that is not enough, usually you feel like you successfully completed the rotation and then remove the key, but when you want to insert it again, the hole will not be there.

We have to return back to the previous hole where we didn’t make a full turn ( it is located toward the back of the mouth) and simply fit the key and keep pushing to complete it.

A tip that will help you in case this happens to your child is to have him lay on the bed with his/her head tilted off it so the tool can be seen clearly, grab a lamp and look for the hole.

You will be able to see it in this position, if not, get a stick and run it toward the back until you find the hole then insert the stick in the center and push it back as possibly as you can and you will identify the new hole up front. 

2)- Poor Oral Hygiene Makes The Hole Hard To Appear

Wash your upper jaw where the hardware is located and generally your mouth three times per day, because food will trap back there between the appliance and the roof of the mouth and prevents the hole to appear.


Small gaps in teeth appear while wearing the palatal expanders.

Small gaps may appear in the two front teeth because the pushing will widen your maxilla so it’s normal for the gaps to appear on your teeth.


After you place the key in the hole, gently push the palate expander key toward the back of the mouth, you will notice the screw will rotate, and when it stops, the new hole will appear.

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