One of the most common orthodontic appliances used in children is the rapid palatal expander (or RPE). When the teeth are crowded, an expander can be a very effective and simple way to create additional space in the mouth. Successful treatment generally requires the expander to be worn before the midpalatal suture is fused. This fusion usually occurs between 14 and 16 years of age.
Expanders are typically glued or bonded to your teeth to hold them in place. There are removable expanders, however fixed ones have an important advantage in that they cannot be lost or forgotten.
When an expander is first placed on, it’s normal to feel some pressure on the teeth or initial discomfort. Over time this sensation will be less noticeable. With the new device, it may take a little while to get used to eating, speaking, etc.
How long does a rapid palatal expander need to be worn?
As with most orthodontic questions, the answer depends on the specific case and amount of expansion. An average timeframe is 6-9 months. Patients should expect to see a space open between the upper front teeth. That’s the goal. While this may seem awkward for a short period of time, it’s necessary to create the space to properly align the teeth with braces.
During this phase of treatment, as at all other times, your oral hygiene is very important. It may take some time to learn how to effectively brush and floss with your expander, but we’ll go over it with you. Finally, please remember that visiting our office does not substitute for regular visits to your dentist; it’s important to keep up with those, too.
If you have any questions about a palatal expander or the treatment options, please feel free to contact us.