How Palate Expansion Helped Our Sons’ Sinus Issues

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Natural Sinus Treatment - Chronic Sinusitis

We’ve had many health issues in our family – candida, gut health, life-threatening food allergies, autism, low iron, anxiety, hay fever, and more. But one of the most persistent issues has been chronic sinusitis–inflammation of the sinuses.  I have mild sinus issues due to seasonal allergies at different times of the year, and my sons had varying degrees of sinus problems that plagued them throughout their childhood.

I’m not one to go for the meds in these cases because of what I went through myself throughout my life.  I took way too many allergy meds throughout my life, and even ended up overdosing on Afrin (a nasal decongestant spray), which is NOT a pleasant experience.

So I’m always looking these days for a natural solution to our ailments.  I know we seem a little “uber crunchy” for some, but in an effort to avoid meds, we’ve used the following natural remedies:

When it came to my sons’ sinus issues, pretty much every night I would have to clean out my youngest’s nose as he would have daily buildup of mucus and such that would make night breathing difficult for him (and anything that disturbs a little one’s sleep will for sure disturb mom’s sleep, so it’s best to find a solution if at all possible.

Between the two of my boys, my oldest had the worst of the sinus problems – apparently it was chronic sinusitis. His nose was pretty much clogged all. the. time.

His voice was constantly nasally, he was blowing his nose all the time (but it pretty much yielded no benefits) and he would even chew with his mouth open since he just couldn’t breathe.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand having a clogged nose. I felt so bad for him.

We tried so many things for my oldest. He’s been on a candida diet for a long time, has been gluten-free as well since approximately age 8 after his diagnosis with Asperger’s Syndrome, and he has been dairy-free his whole life since dairy is one of his life-threatening food allergies.

We even tried natural saline sprays.

Nothing worked.

Fast forward to about 1 year ago.

We were going around town looking for an orthodontist to work on my sons’ teeth. I really thought that my oldest’s teeth were pretty straight and that he didn’t need much work, but my youngest’s were fairly crowded on the bottom.

So we visited one orthodontist to see what he thought.

***He recommended braces for both boys. I hadn’t noticed it, but my oldest’s midline was off a bit and needed work.
For my youngest, he recommended an expander and braces. We call him “Goober” sometimes and Goober had inherited my narrow upper jaw.

I left with my $6000 estimate in hand, feeling the pain, but knowing it was worth it to take care of my boys.

We ended up getting a second opinion (a good idea when you’re about to drop $6K) and then a third.  At the third orthodontist’s office we sat down–once again–to get a free consultation.

The result?

I was shocked.

In the middle of the consultation, the orthodontist asked:

“So, do your boys have sinus issues?”

“Ummmm..Yes,” I replied, not knowing why he was asking this.

“I thought so,” he said.

He poked around in my sons’ mouths again for awhile and then stepped aside to tell me his recommendations.

Expanders for both boys, in addition to the already mentioned braces for both.

I really couldn’t believe it.

See, my oldest’s upper jaw was quite wide so I couldn’t think there was any way he would need to be expanded. Plus the other orthodontists hadn’t suggested it. So I sat there in disbelief, and then asked “Why?” Why did my oldest need an expander when his upper jaw was already so wide?

The orthodontist proceeded to show me the problem.

Though my oldest’s upper jaw appeared to be the right size, in comparison to his lower, it was still narrow.

He then proceeded to explain more about his reasoning.

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The Problems of a Narrow Jaw or Narrow Palate

When the jaw is too narrow, the breathing passages are compromised.

can lead to all kinds of issues including:

Chronic Sinusitis Can Lead to:

  • lower oxygen concentration in blood
  • mouth breathing
  • poor growth and weight in children
  • abnormal facial development
  • abnormal dental development
  • sleep apnea
  • sleeping disorders
  • high blood pressure
  • cardiac arrest
  • impaired learning and memory
  • ADHD, depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, aggression, and bullying
  • increased risk of hypertension and heart problems

Sources: (1) and (2)

It’s my opinion that a narrow palette is a problem of epidemic proportion in our modern society and that we could alleviate many health issues by simply expanding the palettes of our children prior to doing other orthodontic care.

As always, I am not a doctor (nor an orthodontist) and I do not pretend to be one on TV.  This post is not to be considered medical advice and is for entertainment purposes only and you should consult your physician prior to making any changed in your diet or your oral care.

To see a visual demonstration of how the airways expand when using a palate expander, see the images below. Source.

The images on the left are before palate expansion, showing a more narrow airway.

The images on the right show the widening of the airways after palate expansion.

Chronic Sinusitis - Airways open from Palette Expansion
Airways and Chronic Sinusitis - Palette Expansion

Unbelievable, isn’t it?

Our orthodontist showed us x-ray images of patients who had palate expansions done so we could see the increase in their airway passages.

I was intrigued.

And we decided to go forward with it.

Palate Expansion Results

My boys had palette expanders put in the roof of their mouths, and my youngest had an expander put in the lower part of his mouth as well.

Every day we had to insert a little “key” into a hole in the upper expander to make it a tad wider.

teeth with orthodontic braces

Little by little their jaws expanded.

their front teeth got spaces in between them…

Chronic Sinusitis - Palette Expander

They had to work really hard at flossing with all of that metal in their mouths and we ended up buying Waterpiks which were a life saver.

I really really like these – not as a substitute for flossing but they do a great job.

And one day I noticed.

Their sinus issues had improved greatly.

  • No more “gunk in the nose” every night.
  • No more constant nose blowing.
  • No more continual open-mouth chewing (though it is a bit of a struggle due to issues apart from his sinuses).
  • No more nasal voice.
  • I was thrilled.

How fascinating.

Orthodontia, the Narrow Jaw and Chronic Sinusitis

When I was younger, the main way that orthodontia was approached regarding narrow palates was to pull teeth.

It happened to me and I am not very upset that it did. It was typically called “four on the floor” since orthodontists would typically pull 4 teeth to make room for the other crowded teeth (and I guess they wouldn’t sometimes just drop the teeth on the floor after pulling them :).)

Now, orthodontists know better.

A wide jaw makes for:

A Happy Jaw.

and Happy Teeth,

a Happy Tongue, and–

Happy sinuses!

Now we can use the saline spray less frequently, my boys will sleep better, have more oxygenated blood, will likely get sick less frequently, which means they will need fewer natural illness remedies and will almost for sure avoid antibiotics and ear infections, which makes for a very very happy natural momma :).

Jaw Expansion for Adults?

So what’s an adult to do? Your jaw is pretty much set unless you have super invasive surgery, right?


Thankfully, a company called Vivos has figured out a way to literally expand an adult, fully-formed jaw. Non invasive.

Vivos Life is FDA approved to address mild to moderate sleep apnea, and I can tell you from personal experience that it’s literally life changing.

I almost never get a stuffy nose any longer, and while I was getting signs of apnea developing, they have resolved. Apnea is no joke, and no thanks to that CPAP machine – what a cumbersome mess that I’d like to avoid any way that I can!

It’s not cheap, but more and more it’s getting covered by insurance so I encourage you to check and see if it is where you live.

 Do your children, or do you, have a narrow jaw?
Have you heard of palate expansion before?

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  1. This is really interesting. For what it’s worth to you, there is a U.S. company that makes a powder for chronic sinusitis. I live in Canada and the shipping makes the cost phenomenal! The article I read – and which I can’t find the link to just now – said that garlic saurrkraut will do the same thing. Apparently with the powder, when you have an issue, you snort some of this pro or probiotic powder, just a tiny bit, into each nostril daily until its cured. Repeat if/when it returns. They also advise to just eat garlic kraut, or even just the juice, perhaps 1 tablespoon per day. I looked it up, and 3-5 cloves of garlic per quart of kraut should do it, more if you love garlic. I’m in the process of making some now.
    Hopefully, you have fixed the problem, but should infection rear it’s ugly head, this is a workable solution.

    1. HI there – thanks for your input–that’s very interesting which makes sense if it’s inflammation and the added probiotics help with that. We ended up doing more with Vivos Life due to other airway issues but we have a follow up test soon and breathing is very much improved!

  2. Wow! This is an interesting article! As an adult, they usually do surgery to expand A narrow upper jaw or a bone borne appliance. It can help adults too, not just kids just in a different way. I’m looking ay expanding my palate too as a teen I couldn’t take an expander in my mouth. Now I regret it since I have some minor sinus issues and a narrow palate and TMD (temporomandibular dysfunction) of the jaw. I read the whole thing and it was interesting.

    1. You are so welcome! Yes, they do but I just added information at the end of the post that you will find very interesting. I’m glad you commented b/c it encouraged me to post it. I will try to get images in the post to show how much I have expanded. Feel free to remind me later. I’m buried under a big project but will put it on my to do list :).

  3. Hello Adrienne, I think my daughter (13) had similar problems before the expander and now it’s happening again. She had no congested nose for a year, but now that they removed her palate expander and herbst appliance (10 days ago) she is having problems again. Did the orthodontist mentioned what to do once they remove your sons expanders? I’m curious to know if they can have removable expanders to wear at night. Thanks!

    1. Hi there. So sorry you are having problems. I don’t remember anything special that the orthodontist said to do, but we ended up needing to do more for my boys. I wonder if the expander isn’t doing enough or it isn’t addressing the lower jaw and that that is the issue. I would look at Vivos for another more specialized option. It’s not cheap but sometimes insurance covers some of it. It works for adults too. I hope to do a post about it.

  4. I had a surgically supported upper jaw augmentation surgery. I started turning the screw. When will sinusitis end after you start turning? How long after your son’s sinusitis complaint will end. Sorry my English.

    1. Oh my. I was considering that. It’s a very rough surgery–was it to expand your palate? I hope you are OK. I don’t remember my son’s situation. I personally ended up doing this:

      Don’t worry about your English! I used to teach English as a Second Language and I lived in Japan for a year….I know how hard it is! You are doing great!