Life With Rapid Palatal Expanders (RPE’s)

RPE’s are commonly used to address issues with narrow upper jaw and palate. They are most effective with children when the jaw is still growing and easy to manipulate. This device widens the jaw to create more space for permanent teeth and often prevents more invasive measures later in life. The RPE is affixed to the upper back molars and contains a small screw that is turned daily (at home) to expand the appliance. This exerts gentle but consistent force on the jaw until the needed width is achieved. Patients and their caretakers will be given instructions and a demonstration in-office on turning the RPE. 

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Like any orthodontic appliance, patients sometimes have an adjustment period after the RPE is placed. Speaking, eating, chewing, and swallowing can be more difficult for a few days, but patients usually adapt very quickly. The teeth and jaw can also be sore for a few days after placement and after each additional turn. It is very important to gently brush the RPE each time you brush your teeth and avoid sticky or hard foods that can damage it or get stuck under the wires.

Turning your RPE

  • Start the tool in the forward position with the handle pointed toward the nose.
  • Make one full turn, pulling the handle toward the chin.
  • Call or text the office if the appliance gets stuck in a half-turn.