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Palatal Expander

A palatal expander, also known as a rapid palatal expander, rapid maxillary expansion appliance, palate expander, orthodontic expander, Haas, or Hyrax, is used to widen the upper jaw (maxilla) so that the bottom and upper teeth will fit together better. This is a common orthodontic procedure.

Although the use of an expander is most common in children, it can be and has successfully been used in adults, although the effects of expansion are slightly more uncomfortable. Also, depending on the amount of correction and age of the patient, it may result in surgical separation of the maxilla. Use of a palatal expander is most often followed by braces to straighten out all the teeth now that room has been created.

Reasons for Treatment:

~Corrects a crossbite. The upper teeth should close around the outside of the lower teeth. In a patient with a narrow palate, it can be the other way around, with the upper teeth biting inside the lower teeth. This results in asymmetrical growth of the lower jaw, which can cause facial asymmetry, if it isn’t corrected in time.

~Eliminates or reduces overcrowding, by making space for all your child’s upper teeth to erupt in their correct positions.

~Improves breathing ability. A narrow or deep upper jaw makes it difficult for a child to breathe through his nose. This results in continuous mouth-breathing, which causes the unhealthy inhalation of unfiltered bacteria, dry mouth and potential halitosis.


FAQs About Wearing Rapid Palatal Expander

1. How Does Wearing a Rapid Palatal Expander Feel?

You will initially experience excess volumes of saliva within your mouth as it adjusts to the RPE. When turning the screw, you will feel pressure on the roof of the mouth and/or the teeth, which will last around 1 to 5 minutes. After the first week of using the appliance, there should be no discomfort. During the early stages of application, ibuprofen can be helpful in relieving any discomfort. The device should cause no pain to the patient, as mentioned above, only pressure will be felt, which is similar to the pressure you would feel when pushing your thumb against your teeth.

2. How Long Should You Wear the RPE?

On average, most devices of expansion will be retained for around 9 to 12 months, at least for 6 months. If it is removed too early with no retention, the teeth may relapse. That being said, expansion of the upper palate is usually completed within 3 months, while expansion of the lower palate takes, on average, around 6 months.

3. How Can You Activate the Rapid Palatal Expander?

When trying to activate the rapid palatal expander, you will need to use a special key in the process. If you are unsure as to how to use it, then follow the simple steps below, or speak with your orthodontist:

~Wrap the string that is attached to the key on one finger, as to prevent the key being dropped and swallowed.

~Locate the keyhole and then insert the key into it. This will not cause the key to touch upon the roof of the mouth due to the bend in the key.

~Next, push the key to the back of the mouth then the cylinder rotates backward. Also, turn the key sufficiently to ensure the next keyhole can be seen at the front, so that you can enter the key into that hole for the next activation.

~At last, remove that key from the device, and turn as instructed by your orthodontist.


Caring Tips After Wearing Rapid Palatal Expander

1. Diet Changes

There are many foods that may cause impairment to your dental device, that are suggested to best avoided whilst the appliance is in use. Foods that are exceedingly crunchy, hard, sticky, or chewy, can all cause unwanted complication to your dental device.

For this reason, foods that should be avoided include toffee, starburst, gummy bears, jelly beans, popcorn, mints, lollipops, thick pretzels, and jawbreakers, etc. Besides, you should also try to avoid bad habits, such as chewing on pens, or your fingernails. This can also cause harm to your dental device.

2. Keep Good Hygiene

Flossing and brushing will not only become more difficult with a rapid palatal expander, but also more vital. This is because, due to the metal appliance within your mouth, there are more places for food and plaque to build up. For this reason, try to brush at least three times a day, and ensure that you remember to floss on a nightly basis. When brushing, note to brush both your teeth and metal parts of the rapid palatal expander.

3. More Tips to Note

Some other tips that will help are listed below:

~Count how many times the appliance has been turned; never turn more than recommended.

~If the appliance is loose, refrain from turning it. Instead, make an appointment with your orthodontist so they can correct the issue.

~When turning, a space may open between the two front teeth. This space should disappear on its own once the turning has stopped.

~If you are experiencing too much resistance when turning the key, or none at all, you should visit your orthodontist so they can make a readjustment to the appliance.

~Speech may be affected and slurred at first, and swallowing may be difficult to achieve.
This will be improved while the tongue adapts to the appliance.

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