The Palate is the roof of the mouth. It is divided into two parts: the front part has ridges and is hard (so it is called the Hard Palate). The back part is relatively smooth and soft (so it is called the Soft Palate). In children who are still growing, the Palate is actually divided into two halves which fuse together after puberty (usually by age 18 or 19).
If the palate needs to be expanded in children, it can be done gently and easily over a number of months with a Palate Expander appliance. Because the palate has fused already in adults, a Palate Expander alone won’t do the job. In those cases, Surgically Assisted Rapid Palate Expansion (SARPE) is usually necessary.