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Rapid Palatal Expander
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Information provided by emersonbraces.com: What is a Rapid Palatal Expander?

When the upper teeth are on the inside of the lower teeth in the back sections of the mouth, it is called a posterior crossbite. During an examination, an orthodontist evaluates the overlap of the posterior teeth. The upper teeth should overlap the lower teeth by about half the width of the upper tooth. A crossbite can be in the back of the mouth which we call a posterior crossbite or in the front of the mouth, called an anterior crossbite. A crossbite can be just one tooth or multiple teeth. A crossbite develops due to the tooth bud pointing in a bad direction and/or not enough space for the tooth to erupt. The reasons to correct a crossbite are asymmetrical growth of the lower jaw, collapse of the dentition due to incorrect forces and a unstable bite.

A Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE) is an upper appliance that places pressure on the upper jaw (maxilla) by turning a midline screw. The pressure separates the mid palatal suture thus making the maxilla wider, which can correct crossbites and creat space. RPEs are used often to correct posterior crossbites. Since we are separating a mid palatal suture, it is better to do this procedure at a younger age before the palatal suture becomes fused. With adults, the maxilla can be expanded by using an RPE and having surgery performed by an oral surgeon.

Activation of an RPE is done by a parent, guardian or other person. You can’t turn it yourself. The patient is given a small wire that inserts into a small hole in the screw of the expander. The key can be fancy with a plastic handle. Have the patient lay down on the bed or couch where there is good light. Then, the patient tilts their head back so that the RPE can be seen clearly. Make sure that a string of floss is attached on the key so it doesn’t go down the patient’s throat. Hold the key with two fingers. Place the wire (Key) into the front hole of the rapid palatal expander and then rotate it to the back of the mouth until it stops. Pull the key out towards the back of the mouth. You should now be able to see a new hole in the front for your next turn. If you do not turn the screw completely to the back, the new hole in the front may be partially block and the wire won’t go into it when needed. If that’s the case, you have to find the hole in the back of the mouth and complete the turn.
Produced: 07/2013
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