An upper or lower dental arch that is too narrow can cause a variety of problems for your oral and overall health. Luckily, there are different methods for widening an arch, and these interventions are usually performed at a young age to prevent oral health issues in the patient's future.
Why is a Narrow Arch Problematic?
Over 30 percent of Americans have a narrow dental arch. A narrow arch is also sometimes called a high-vaulted palate, bubble palate, or gothic palate, and it can either be genetically inherited or caused by habits like thumb sucking or using a pacifier as a young child.
A narrow palate means that there is less room in your mouth for both your tongue and your teeth. As a result, children with a narrow arch often experience overcrowding as their permanent teeth grow in. Overcrowding causes bite and alignment issues, damage to neighboring teeth as the new ones erupt in the wrong direction, and difficulty brushing and flossing which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. People with a narrow arch also have less room for their tongue, which can block the airway and cause breathing problems, sleep apnea, and snoring.
Signs of a Narrow Arch
Crooked, overcrowded teeth are the most visible sign of a narrow arch. In addition to sleep apnea and snoring, another breathing issue that can be an indicator of a narrow arch is mouth breathing. Someone with a narrow arch might also have a deviated septum, persistent congestion, and speech issues.
How Can a Narrow Arch Be Widened?
A narrow arch can be widened to correct a crooked smile and prevent one's tongue from blocking their airway. We commonly use appliances such as braces, wires, and palate expanders to widen a narrow arch, particularly in children. For adults, we might recommend a clear aligner like Invisalign. If you or your child has a narrow arch and want to discuss your options, contact our office today.
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