If you have been prescribed a rapid palatal expander (RPE) to assist in your braces treatment, please read and follow these dental instructions carefully.
Why Do I Need an Orthodontic Expander?
The expander is used to widen the upper jaw and decrease the amount of time you wear your braces. By widening the palate or roof of the mouth, the dental arch increases to create more space for your teeth to grow. It can also create a broader, more beautiful smile, limit any tooth extractions needed to make room for new teeth, and improve your breathing.
What Can I Expect From My Orthodontic Expander?
In the beginning, your tongue will have some adjusting to do while speaking and eating. But after a few days of practice, you’ll be an expert! The expander, when activated or turned, can cause some slight discomfort and tenderness near the bridge of the nose and cheekbones. To relieve any discomfort, use over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen (preferred choice) or acetaminophen. Take the dosage as directed on the bottle.
How Do I Use the Orthodontic Expander Key?
The expander is activated by placing the special key into the hole in the center of the expander and gently pushing the key toward the back of the mouth. A turn is completed when you cannot push the key any further backward and you can see a new hole appear in the front. Remove the key carefully toward the throat and you’ve completed one turn. The expander will be activated ONLY one time a day, for approximately 28-42 turns. Do not turn more than prescribed. If an unusual amount of discomfort is felt and medication is not relieving the discomfort, skip a day. Keep track of how many actual turns are completed.
Count the Expander Turns
It’s important to count the turns. Let your orthodontist know how many actual turns you made between appointments.
About the Temporary Space
If space develops between the two front teeth, this is normal. This space will begin to close once the turns have stopped. The bone has widened but the fibers surrounding the teeth will help close the teeth together.
Your Orthodontic Expander Schedule
You can expect to follow this approximate schedule while undergoing your orthodontic expander treatment:
First 6 weeks
Expander is turned ONCE a day for 28-42 days, approximately
Next 6 weeks
Stabilized (worn but not turned), similar to a cast on a broken bone
Once Stabilized for 6 weeks
Once the teeth are stabilized, the expander can be removed and a smaller, transpalatal (across the roof of the mouth) holding bar will be carefully placed to stabilize the expansion. The remaining appliances (braces or Invisalign) are placed.