Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE)

The Rapid Palate Expander or RPE is used to help correct jaw width, crowding and correct cross bites. The ideal time for correction of these is when you are still growing. You will be instructed on how to activate the appliance with a special key that will be provided for you. By turning the “key” you will slowly begin to obtain the desired width.  Each turn equals approximately ¼ mm. You will insert the key into the hole that is closest to the front of your mouth and push it back gently until you can’t press back any further. A new hole should appear near the front. Once you see this next hole and you can’t push the key any further it is safe to slide the key out. If you should miss a day just continue with the turns the next day. If you should get stuck in the middle of a turn do not stress, just call the office and we will help correct it for you. Just try to complete the instructed number of turns before your next visit. Please refer to the video below for a demonstration. You may also develop a small space between the front teeth, this is very normal and indicates that the RPE is working. Please know that this is temporary! It is also very common to experience a small amount of pressure or tingling in the roof of your mouth or on the bridge of your nose for a short time.

What to Expect

  • The first few days with your new RPE will be an adjustment period.  Your teeth may be a bit sore.  Please feel free to take Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
  • Initially, you will produce extra saliva in your mouth.  This will subside in a few days.
  • You may have difficulty pronouncing some words at first. We recommend reading out loud in the beginning until you get used to it.
  • You may also feel that you can’t swallow the way you did before this is only temporary.
  • Eating may feel awkward at first so try softer foods.

Dr. B’s Rules

  • Please brush your RPE when you brush your teeth.
  • Don’t eat any sticky, chewy candy or gum.  These can loosen the appliance.
  • Don’t eat nuts or popcorn.  These can get caught under the wires of the RPE and can cause irritation of your gums or can result in an infection.