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palatal expander

Can An Expander In Your Mouth Prevent Bad Breath?

Posted on August 7, 2020

Many children have narrow upper palates and need to be fitted with a Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE) to expand the upper jaw properly. Numerous reports show that these expanders increase the size of the nasal cavity and improve the patient’s ability to breath through their nose. But did you know that an expander can also help bad breath?

In 2018, the American Journal of Orthodontic Dentofacial Orthopedics published a study to evaluate the effect of an expander on halitosis (or bad breath). Halitosis is used to describe a bad or unpleasant odor in the mouth. Volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) are responsible for these odors. VSCs are formed by the breakdown of sulfur-containing amino acids and proteins by bacteria found in saliva and fluid in the gums, tongue, and other parts of the mouth.

There are certain conditions responsible for the formation of VSCs. Some conditions that can cause bad breath include acidic or basic pH value of saliva; decreased saliva amount and flow rate; gingivitis; periodontitis accompanied by an increase of gram-negative anaerobic bacteria; low oxygen; and pharyngeal infections.

A narrow jaw accompanied with a high palatal vault causes some disorders in the nose and has undesirable effects on the jaw and teeth.  Examples include a decreased airflow through the nose from narrow passages, a higher nasal floor, crossbite, mouth breathing, and a decrease in the size of the nasal airway. The hypothesis was that an expander would change the nasal cavity and help breathing from the nose, therefore reducing bad breath.

After comparing the experimental group of children with the control group, the authors found that bad breath decreased significantly in the group who were fitted with expanders. The volume in the nasal cavity also increased significantly with an expander. It was concluded that an expander could be a treatment option for patients with a narrow jaw, crossbite, and bad breath.