What is a rapid palatal expander

6 Things You Need To Know About The Rapid Palatal Expander

The Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE) or Rapid Maxillary Expander (RME) may sound a little intimidating, but it’s only intended to help you. So if things like Rapid Palatal Expander Surgery, RPE side effects, or even RPE for adults scare you, don’t because it’s only intention is to give you that beautiful smile!

What is a Rapid Palatal Expander?

RPE is a device or screw that is applied on the maxilla or roof of the mouth by means of bands around the back of the teeth. It may be a Bonded Palatal Expander (BRPE) as it uses acrylic bonded for anchorage. What this does is that it separates the mid-palatal suture by stretching its bands thus widening the maxilla. This stretching is done by turning the screw with the key provided by your orthodontist.

However, there are conditions. If your jaw is attached to your skull too rigidly, then it cannot widen. Although the teeth will move, it will not deliver the ‘biological’ effect. As mentioned, RPE is strictly for teenagers whose palatal sutures have not been fused yet. In other words, the junctions between the bones are still moveable. Adults meanwhile, will require surgery.

Are Rapid Palatal Expanders necessary for me?

Rapid Palatal Expanders widen your upper jaw to fit your lower jaw. If you bite your teeth and discover that your upper teeth are inside the lower teeth in the back sections of your mouth, this is called Posterior Crossbite. And it is advisable that you consider using Rapid Palatal Expanders to treat this. Posterior Crossbite can cause the lower jaw to grow asymmetrically on that side– making your jaw too narrow.

It can also cause tooth wear, periodontitis, and temporomandibular joint issues.

rapid maxillary expander

How do I adjust my Rapid Palatal Expander?

Note that this is not and should not in any way be painful. In adjusting your RPE, it’s best to have someone else do it for you. The first step is to insert the key into the hole located in the middle of the expander. The ‘turning’ is then done by pushing it toward the throat until you see the next key hole to appear. The RPE has a stopper so don’t worry about pushing it too deeply. Remember: you should only do two turns a day.

A few hours following the insertion, you will salivate a lot. This is normal because your mouth thinks that the appliance is food thus it will react that way. It will disappear shortly.

What happens when I have an RPE?

Rapid Palatal Expanders or Bonded Palatal Expanders will feel uncomfortable at first. There will be a mild pushing sensation against your teeth that will be caused by the bands. There will also be initial pressures on the teeth, the middle of your palate, cheeks and nose.

At first, it will be hard to breathe through the mouth as the expander will take up half of the area. Speech will also be difficult. You will develop lisps and pronunciation will be a challenge. Although don’t worry because it will disappear after a day to a week or two. It will also be difficult to swallow. Doctors recommend practicing swallowing and reading out loud to remedy these; but always remember all of it is temporary.

Rapid Palatal Expanders side effects will include a change in facial appearance as caused by the cheek attached to the maxilla and an increase in nasal chambers. There will also be an increase in the width of the bridge of the nose which will hardly be noticeable. The bridge of your nose will ache a little, but it won’t be painful.

One noticeable side effect of RPE is that it will create a huge gap between your upper front teeth. But as soon as it’s over, the teeth will naturally reposition themselves back.

In your activation, the roof of your mouth will feel wrinkly. To prevent gums from getting punctured, Doctors will advise patients to have a careful diet and to avoid food that are too hot, or that are hard to chew. Your diet should include soft food like yogurt, mashed potatoes, smoothies.

rapid palatal expander for children

How about Rapid Palatal Expanders for Adults?

As mentioned, RPEs are not applicable for adults as their sutures have already been fused. This is why for adults, they should have surgical intervention to widen the palate. The surgery aims at making an incision that will weaken the maxillary bone until it is weak enough for the expander to push the sutures apart. This procedure is called Surgically Assisted Rapid Palatal Expansion (SARPE).

Another method is by using ‘braces.’ This will simply allow palatal enlargement by applying pressure without needing surgery or an expander.

How about a Rapid Palatal Expander for the Lower Jaw?

Here are the reasons why Rapid Palatal Expanders are not for Lower Jaws: First of all, your lower arch may have plates, but it is not similar to that of your upper jaw. Your lower arch is also not near any joint and they don’t have sutures between the bones.

An expander may allow teeth to move, but it is strictly limited to ‘tipping’ the teeth and not moving the bone. To create additional space, a removable retainer device with a screw similar to the palate may work. These expanders are called ‘sagittal’ appliances.

Some doctors also tie behind the teeth with a spring; some use fixed appliances such as braces.

The last option is an extraction. As soon as the space created by the extracted teeth heal, the remaining teeth will reposition themselves.