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Rapid Palatal Expander

The rapid palatal expander (RPE) is one of the common appliances used at Park Smiles NYC to help children with early orthodontic treatment, commonly known as early interceptive treatment. By widening the upper jaw, the expander creates space for permanent teeth and helps treat and prevent severe teeth crowding or impactions. The expander is especially useful for young children who are still actively growing and have developed orthodontic issues.

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Additional benefits of using the rapid palatal expander in early interceptive treatment include:

  • Crossbite correction. In a young patient with a narrow palate, the upper teeth can bite inside the lower teeth on one side or both, which may cause eventual lower-jaw displacement and/or unfavorable jaw growth. The expander helps to correct this problem by expanding the upper jaw as an early intervention.
  • Eliminates or reduces overcrowding. Palatal expansion enables your child’s upper teeth to erupt in their correct positions.
  • Improves breathing. A narrow or deep jaw makes it difficult for a child to breathe through his or her nose. This can result in continuous mouth breathing, known to be detrimental to dental health and create sleep disorders. The expander helps provide easier breathing due to the expansion of the palate and nasal passages.

How does the Rapid Palatal Expander work?

The RPE is custom-made to fit exactly for each patient’s mouth and teeth. It is a non-removable appliance fixed onto the first molars of the upper arch and covering over most of the palate. An RPE can also be removable. The appliance consists of two halves connected in the middle with a screw. Using a special key, turning the screw will induce controlled tension at the intersection of the two palatal bones.
This tension will gradually move the two bones apart. At the time of the desired expansion, your orthodontist will leave the expander in for a couple more months to give your child’s bones time to adapt and stabilize the new expansion.

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What will my child experience during the RPE treatment?

Your child will likely experience mild discomfort during the beginning of the treatment period, probably more so due to the actual presence of the appliance inside the mouth than expansion, but this is a normal sign that the expander is working as intended. It’s important to remember that the uncomfortable experiences are only temporary and will lessen as your child’s body adapts to the appliance. Some of the issues your child may experience could include:
  • Soreness
  • A feeling of pressure
  • Speaking and eating feeling a bit awkward at first
  • A slight gap between the front teeth.


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Expertly Reviewed by
the Medical Staff at Park Smiles

June 18, 2024

Our skilled team at Park Smiles NYC, led by Dr. Aryeh Mahana is highly skilled and dedicated to offering a comprehensive array of the very best dental services in New York City. We use our extensive expertise in crafting the highest level of quality care.