The tales of mushy food and minor discomfort are true enough, the life of a patient with Rapid Palatal Expanders (RPEs). But before you get discouraged, you should know that those two factors are the only ‘cons’ to getting an RPE. The pros definitely outweigh those factors. With that aside, you must be asking: are Rapid Palatal Expanders necessary in the first place?
When to use Palatal Expanders
The first factor when you should consider using RPEs is if you have Posterior Crossbite– when your upper teeth lands inside your lower teeth every time you bite. This is caused by a narrow palate that affects both breathing and your facial geometry.
Narrow palates make breathing through the nose a difficulty because of its shape. Because of this, the patient will breathe through the mouth– an unhealthy practice since air inhaled will become unfiltered. Other threats also include potential halitosis.
On the other hand, narrow palates also affect facial geometry– specifically facial asymmetry.
These palatal expanders correct crossbites and widen the roof of your mouth or the maxilla. Thus, the narrow plate stretches to make space. Ultimately, these are the reasons why palatal expanders are used. If you’re still wondering when to use a palatal expander, remember that it should be as soon as possible. It’s advisable to perform this application as soon as the narrow palate is diagnosed. The younger the age, the easier the palates will stretch.
What if we were dealing with a late adolescent here? Can adults still get palatal expanders?
It should be known that the younger the patient, the more flexible the suture. When adulthood comes in, sutures will have been fused already– the sutures will become physically immovable. Thus, adults should undertake surgical intervention called Surgically Assisted Rapid Palatal Expansion (SARPE). To weaken the maxillary bone, an incision will be made at the roof of the mouth. This way, it will be easier to push the sutures apart.
Other than this, adult patients can undergo getting braces. In contrast to the SARPE, pressure will be applied to allow maxillary expansion without the need for surgery or an expander.
How to maintain Rapid Palatal Expanders?
Now, how long these expanders stay in generally takes an average of nine months. Upper expansion is usually finished within a month. Then it takes a minimum of three months to retain the screw and keep the palates from moving. The six months left will be for maintaining the expansion– this maintenance may shorten up to four months.
In the length that these bands stay in your upper jaw, you should learn how to clean these palatal expanders. It is advisable to have a small toothbrush along with a normal-sized one. While brushing, be sure to brush the central gears. It is also especially important to scrub ever screw and edge that touches your gumline.
Lastly, if you’re wondering how to remove a palatal expander, that’s all up to your orthodontist. To remove the RPE, a device will be used to drill the screw until it slowly disintegrates into metal parts. It will induce a great amount of pressure, but it will disappear as soon as it’s over.
Unfortunately, aches will be a frequent visitor when you have your sutures being pulled apart. Worry not though, because there are painkillers, and remedies like cold compress or ice cream to soothe the hurt. And besides, it doesn’t matter how painful palatal expanders are. The end-result is a definite prize. Who doesn’t want a shiny new smile?