Congratulations, you are ready to start orthodontic treatment! A rapid palatal expander allows for the creation of more space for the eruption of the permanent teeth and correction of the bite.
How Does It Work?
- Palatal expansion is a combination of tooth movement and jaw expansion. It works by widening the two halves of the upper jaw, called the palate. The two halves are joined together by a “suture” in the middle of the roof of the mouth. Palatal Expanders are customized for each patient’s unique mouth.
How Long Is It Worn?
- Expanders are worn for at least 6 months sometimes longer, but active turning is only about 4 weeks depending on what the doctor prescribes.
What to Expect
- Speech Your speech will be affected. This is not permanent & the best way to get used to this is to speak aloud as much as possible; try reading out loud or singing.
- Soreness Your teeth may be sore for the first few days. To help with this you may want to take what you would normally take for a headache; however, chewing & talking are the best ways to get your mouth used to this new feeling. Do not skip days, because skipping days will only extend the amount of time you experience soreness & may complicate treatment.
- Pressure or tingling of the mouth, tongue, cheeks & nose
- Your bite will feel off as the width of your palate changes As the palate expands the teeth will not fit together properly, this is normal.
- Space between your front teeth Although this is a good sign from the standpoint of your treatment, it can be disheartening from a cosmetic point of view. By the time you stop turning the screw, the space may look large enough to fit another tooth. This space should close by itself within a short time.
- Brush the appliance including the metal bars & screw in the same way you brush your teeth. When you are unable to brush after eating, use water swished around in your mouth to help dislodge any food particles. Some patients opt to purchase a device such as a WaterPik to keep their expander clean.
- At first, eating will be more difficult; take small bites & eat soft foods until this is overcome (usually a few days to a week). After that, you should be able to eat almost everything you did before with some exceptions (foods/treats that are gooey, sticky, or chewy).