What is a rapid palatal expander and how is it used in orthodontics?

by | Orthodontics |

If your child’s dentist has recommended a rapid palatal expander then you might have a few questions, such as what it is and what it does. A rapid palatal expander is an orthodontic tool that is used to increase the size of the upper jaw. This device is commonly used when the patient has an upper jaw that is too narrow to fit properly with the lower jaw.

Children are the most common patient to have this kind of jaw problem. This condition is more common in children with allergies than in children who do not suffer from allergies. The exact reasons why allergies tend to cause a narrower upper jaw are unclear, but some dentists tend to think that it has something to do with the child’s need to breathe through their mouth due to congestion in their nose. This need to breathe through the mouth is thought to force the upper jaw to become underdeveloped.

Most dentists will prescribe a rapid palatal expander for a child when they are around the ages of seven, eight or nine. This is because the device tends to work better on younger children and because they are more likely to comply with the device. As children get older it can be difficult to get them to wear the device. Pre-teen children are actually the ideal candidates for a rapid palatal expander, but few children this old will actually wear it or follow the dentist’s instructions. Therefore it is easier to fix this problem when the child is younger.

A rapid palatal expander works by applying pressure to the insides of the upper jaw bone, therefore forcing it to expand over the period of time. The device is placed in the roof of the patient’s mouth, and it features a small screw in the centre of the device. Turning this tiny screw forces the device to get wider, which places pressure on the bones. It usually takes about three months to reach the appropriate level of expansion. Then the device can be removed.

Are you looking for orthodontist in Kent? For the best advice on orthodontics, you may wish to schedule a consultation with Dr Rik Trivedi and the skilled dentists at the Parrock Street Dental and Implant Centre. They can be reached through their website at www.parrockdental.co.uk or by calling 01474 537191. Or you can stop into the practice, which is located at 189-191 Parrock Street, in Gravesend, Kent DA12 1EN.

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About the author Dr Rik Trivedi

Dr Rik Trivedi is the Principal dentist at Parrock Dental & Implant Centres. He has a keen interest in Cosmetic Smile Dentistry and braces, Dental implants, Facial Aesthetics, Prevention and is very experienced in the design and placement of Cerec Same Day Crown technology.