The Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE) is a device used to widen the upper arch or roof of the mouth. Although the arch is usually expanded in 15-20 days, the appliance will remain in place for a longer period, usually six months or so, while new bone generates in the expanded arch.
Widening the mouth’s palate allows your upper teeth to line up properly, giving you a better bite. Additionally, just as a high palate and narrow arch restrict your breathing passages, widening the palate, in turn, widens air passages, enabling you to breathe more easily through the nose.
The expanding action gently separates the elastic membrane in the center of the palate. Once the palate has been expanded fully, new bone tissue fills in that space. You’ll notice that widening the arches also temporarily causes a space between your two front teeth. Do not let this alarm you as we will close the space during treatment.
Although your palatal expander may cause some initial discomfort, such as a feeling of pressure or tingling under the appliance or at the bridge of the nose, these symptoms are temporary. An over-the-counter pain reliever (Advil, Tylenol, etc.) will effectively relieve your discomfort. If it does not, call our office so that we can check your appliance carefully.
Dr. Becker will provide you with explicit instructions regarding the activation of your palatal expander. You must regularly activate the appliance according to the schedule and instructions given by Dr. Becker. Do not rush or delay the activation of the RPE. Clean the RPE carefully each time you brush. This and mouthwash will keep the appliance free of food and prevent irritation.
Please be careful with the foods that you eat. Stay away from sticky or chewy foods as they will loosen the expander. If the expander feels loose at any time, please call the office. Be careful with long, stringy foods such as spaghetti and hot cheese as they could wrap around the expander and into the throat. Cut these foods up before eating them.