What is a Rapid Palatal Expander? PART 1
What is a Rapid Palatal Expander?
A rapid palatal expander (RPE) is a common orthodontic appliance used in phase 1 orthodontic treatment or comprehensive treatment with expansion.
The maxilla (the bone of the upper jaw) is made up of two pieces that do not fuse together until the mid-teenage years. A palatal expander uses gentle pressure to separate the pieces and widen the palate.
This can help make room for all the permanent teeth to fit properly and fixes discrepancies between the upper and lower jaw to create an ideal bite.
How Does a rapid palatal expander Work?
The device is secured around the back teeth and has two halves that fit against the roof of the mouth. The halves are joined together with a screw at the center.
You or your child will activate the expander by placing a key in the screw and turning it. Each turn creates tension that exerts gentle pressure on the midline suture, the point where the two maxillary bones meet, and the molars. This pressure pushes the maxillary bones apart and widens the jaw.
Once your child reaches the prescribed amount of expansion, the appliance will stay in place for several months so the new bone can form between the halves of the maxilla, making the expansion permanent.
As we said above, Dr. Krithika M Jayaram-your best orthodontist in Bangalore generally uses the expander during a comprehensive treatment plan, where the child wears an expander for about six months before we remove it. Immediately after the expansion is completed, orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign Teen is used to fine-tune the bite and straighten the teeth.
Dr. Krithika M Jayaram- your best orthodontist in Vasanth Nagar, always treats kids conservatively. And, while there are cases where two phases of treatment are needed, often, we can achieve the same results with a single phase of treatment. Therefore, Dr.Krithika M Jayaram- your best orthodontist in Cunningham Road, may recommend combining an expander with braces. When the goals for expansion are achieved, she will take the expander out and your child will continue with braces.
When is a Rapid Palate Expander Needed?
These are the most common reasons kids and teens require maxillary expansion:
A crossbite is when some of the bottom teeth sit outside of the top teeth. A crossbite can be anterior (involving front teeth) or posterior (involving teeth in the back). Often, a posterior crossbite that is skeletal in nature is due to the upper jaw being too narrow in relation to the lower jaw.
If not treated, patients with a posterior crossbite can compensate by shifting their jaw to the side, causing permanent changes in their facial structure. Crossbites can also result in jaw and TMJ pain and worn teeth.
Breathing through the nose helps the lungs absorb oxygen, filters out impurities, adds moisture to the air, and even plays an essential role in kids’ growth. When nasal breathing is not possible and kids resort to mouth breathing, it has a negative impact on the development of their jaw and facial structures and can lead to sleep-disordered breathing, which includes obstructive sleep apnea.
Upper expansion widens the nasal floor, makes more room for the tongue and permanent teeth, and helps open the airway. This can enable kids to breathe easier and stop mouth breathing.
Crowding occurs when the jaw is too small to fit all the permanent teeth. Teeth might twist, overlap, or even become impacted. Crowded, crooked teeth are harder to clean, which increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
By widening the upper jaw with an expander, the teeth will have enough space and extractions can be avoided.
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