Rapid Palatal Expander
Rapid Palatal Expansion or RPE
Upper jaw expansion is a form of orthodontic treatment that is used in specific cases. By widening the circumference of the palate, the perimeter of the dental arch increases to create more space for teeth growth.
Reasons for Treatment
Palatal or maxillary expanders, according to Dr. Martin Fine, do three things that make expanding the upper jaw particularly helpful during childhood:
- Corrects a crossbite. The upper teeth should close around the outside of the lower teeth. In a patient with a narrow palate, it can be the other way around, with the upper teeth biting inside the lower teeth. This results in asymmetrical growth of the lower jaw, which can cause facial asymmetry, if it isn't corrected in time.
- Eliminates or reduces overcrowding, by making space for all your child's upper teeth to erupt in their correct positions.
- Improves breathing ability. A narrow or deep upper jaw makes it difficult for a child to breathe through his nose. This results in continuous mouth-breathing, which causes the unhealthy inhalation of unfiltered bacteria, dry mouth and potential halitosis.
These conditions can be corrected by expanding the width of the palate to accommodate the development of all your child's teeth, open up the nasal passages and improve the bite.
Upper jaw expansion is most successful when it's performed in children under the age of 16. Crossbite expansion should ideally be treated as young as possible, but no earlier than the age of five. Adults with crossbites may only need dental expansion, not palatal expansion. If an adult's upper jaw needs to be expanded, orthodontists may recommend jaw surgery as the primary treatment for this issue.