A palatal expander is a non-removable orthodontic appliance that is used to widen the upper arch and to obtain room for permanent teeth to erupt.
Attached to the upper molars through bonding or by cemented bands, the Rapid Palatal Expander is an orthodontic device used to create a wider space in the upper jaw. It is typically used when the upper jaw is too narrow for the lower jaw or when the upper teeth are crowded or blocked out of the dental arch.
When patients are still growing, their connective tissue between the left and right halves of their upper jaw is very responsive to expansion. By simply activating the expander through turning a screw in the center of the palatal expander, with a special key we provide, gradual outward pressure is placed on the left and right halves of the upper jaw. This pressure causes an increased amount of bone to grow between the right and left halves of the jaw, ultimately resulting in an increased width.
There is generally a little tooth discomfort for the patient, however there is a short adjustment period. During this adjustment period, the patient may have extra saliva in the mouth and may lisp slightly until the tongue becomes used to the appliance. Chewing may be difficult the first few days because the appliance covers the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Cut food up into bite size pieces and stay away from sticky and hard foods such as candies and pretzels.
A few patients may experience a small sore on the tongue from the bar of the expander. If this happens, rinse the mouth with warm salt water or hydrogen peroxide mixed half and half with water, a few times a day until the sore heals. If the tongue becomes swollen or does not heal within a week, please call the office for an appointment.
Depending on the patients tolerance and adaptability level, the adjustment period lasts from 2-5 days.
To obtain the expansion needed, the palatal expander will need to be activated or turned a number of times before your next visit. The Doctor will prescribe the exact number of times the expander will need to be turned.