Rapid palatal expander (RPE orthodontics) is a very common appliance that can be used on patients with narrow jaw problems (especially children under 16 years old), it is typically used to widen the upper jaw and correct cros sbites, the best time for palatal expansion is before the patient reaches puberty.
WHAT IS A RAPID PALATAL EXPANDER
Rapid palatal expander is an orthodontic appliance that widens the roof of the palate to correct missaligned bites and malocclusions such as crowded teeth, crossbites, underbites and narrow jaw problems in general.
This treatment happens by placing the expander on the upper jaw of the palate and attach the two arms with the upper molars by applying some dental cement to fix the appliance while the expansion happens.
A great effective way to stop palate issues and malocclusions is using the rapid palatal expander, especially when used early if possible, preferably when the patient is a child, because the jaw and bite can be easily manipulated and the results will be much better in less time.
Yeas, in less time ! that’s why it’s called “Rapid”
THE EXPANSION AMOUNT FOR RPE ORTHODONTICS
Compared to other orthodontic options, the Rapid palatal expander can achieve an amount of 0,5 to 1 mm each day, fast huh !
This particular type of palatal expander is typically used in situations where the patient is not a fully grown mature, since the width of the maxilla can be modified easily and the expansion amount won’t be a problem.
The rapid expander will stay in your child’s mouth for 3 to 6 weeks depending on the severity of the condition and the age of your child.
Your dentist may recommend you to keep the rapid palatal expander in for extra few weeks to make sure you get the best expansion results.
SITUATIONS WHERE THE RAPID PALATAL EXPANDER IS REQUIRED
The majority of othodontists usually suggest using the rapid palatal expander (rpe orthodontics) if your children are facing one of these malocclusions that require a expansion into the upper molars:
- Cross bites, where the upper part is too narrow to fit with the lower part, also when the back teeth fits inside the bottom one. In this case, we can fix this orthodontic situation by expanding the two palatal bones in the upper jaw using the rapid palatal expander.
- Overcrowded teeth that require palate widening.
- Impacted teeth (lack of space inside the mouth) can be fixed using rpe orthodontics.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING RPE ORTHODONTICS
The experience of wearing a rapid palatal expander appliance in your upper jaw could be a little bit uncomfortable at the first few days , this period is only for adjustement and few days later, everything is gonna be perfect.
- At first, eat only soft foods because eating may feel awkward, it’s temporary so don’t worry.
- You may have some issues when you pronounce, we recommend you try to pronounce louder while you get used to the RPE.
- You will feel a little awkward when you swallow, because of the pressure and the soreness in your palate.
- You will also notice an increase in the salivation process.
HOW TO EAT WITH A RAPID PALATAL EXPANDER
People often struggles when it comes to eating during RPE orthodontics, it’s a little bit annoying to have limited food choices under the treatment period but it’s all worth it.
To make things simple for you, you should avoid hard, sticky and chewy food because they may stuck in the expander and cause irritations on your tongue and gums.
Your orthodontist will give you all the instructions to keep your palatal expander device safe and prevent your tissue and gum from irritations and infection during the procedure.
This kind of food are also the reason why patients can’t find the hole where to insert the rapid palatal expander key because food’s remaining particles stucks between the gum and the appliance which prevents the hole from appearing and turning the palatal expander will be difficult, so be cautious ad take care of your appliance.
HOW LONG DOES A RAPID PALATAL EXPANDER STAY IN
While the other types of expanders used to take up to 12 months to reach the desired palate width, the rapid palatal expander treatment will only require 4 to 6 weeks to make the upper jaw expands and get the job done, that’s why w call it rapid.
However, the rpe orthodontics will require extra time to ensure the new formed bone will successfuly mature and the expansion is perfect.
The rapid expander can stay in for 4 to 5 months depending on the orthodontic circumstances, but still faster then anything else !
Is it safe to get the expansion amount of 5 to 10 mm each day ?
It is totally safe, this is why it is highly recommended ro use the rapid palatal expander at early age where the palate is still growing.
After few weeks of using rpe orthodontics, i see gaps appearing in the front teeth, why ?
This is a common orthodontic situation, that means the rapid expander is working just fine,the two palatal bones are getting expanded, as a result the gaps appears because the teeth are adjusting to the new room.
I find it difficult to brush my teeth while wearing the rapid palatal expander, any tips ?
The best thing you can do is to get a water flosser, it will help you reach to the difficult places easily, and don’t forget to keep your appliance clean by washing it everyday, this will provide perfect conditions for the expansion procedure to be successful.