31 Jan What Are Palatal Expanders?
Palatal expanders are orthodontic devices that encourage the upper jaw to grow so that the upper row of teeth match the bottom row. Orthodontists most commonly use them to help children who might have bite problems. The devices can, however, be used in some adult patients who might be experiencing the same issues.
Rapid Palatal Expanders (RPE)
RPEs, also known as rapid maxillary expanders (RME), can increase your palate size within 3 to 6 months. Your orthodontist will make a mold of your upper jaw to ensure you have the right size. Over time, they will increase the width of the expander, encouraging the jaw to grow to the necessary size to avoid bite complications.
Slow Palatal Expanders
Slow palate expanders (SPEs) takes a similar approach to RPE but it takes a longer time to reach the desired results. You can expect to wear one for at least 8 weeks. During this time, the size of the palatal expander will increase in size 4 times per week.
However, some patients prefer them because they cause less pain than RPEs. Your orthodontist can help you decide whether a slow palate expander will suit your needs better than an RPE.
Implant-supported expanders work like RPEs and slow palate expanders but they require 2 to 4 small implants. If you choose this option, you will increase the expanders’ width over the course of about 2 weeks.
You may prefer implant-supported expanders because they work quickly. Unfortunately, choosing this option often increases the chance of getting an infection due to the use of an implant.
Surgically Assisted Rapid Palatal Expanders
Orthodontists typically use surgically assisted rapid palatal expanders when working with adult patients. Since adult mouths have finished growing, they may require surgery to adjust jaw size and tooth spacing.
Why Do I Need Palate Expanders?
Most orthodontists recommend palate expanders when their patients have crowded upper teeth, cross bites, or impacted canine teeth. Expanding the upper jaw gives teeth more room so they can match those of the lower jaw.
After using an expander, you may need braces to straighten your teeth. The combination of both usually produces straight teeth that line up properly with the lower jaw. This not only improves the mouth’s look but can prevent future dental problems that need more aggressive interventions.