About Braces

Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE)

Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE) is for patients whose upper jaw is narrow. A parent or the patient adjusts the RPE daily as instructed, until the palate has been widened enough. Once widened, the upper jaw knits together. The RPE is prescribed for patients whose facial bones are not fully developed.

Before the RPE feels comfortable, the patient may sense some initial pressure and feel a tingling or itch under the expander or across the bridge of the nose. Some pressure may also be felt in the cheek area, and sometimes a space will be seen between the upper two front teeth.

A special key is used to activate the RPE. To use it, loop the string on the key around your finger or wrist to prevent the possibility of the key being swallowed. Insert the key into the key slot; the key will not touch the roof of the mouth. Push the key all the way from front to back. Look for the next hole to rotate forward enough so you will be able to place the key into it the next time. Remove the key, and turn as you have been instructed.

Remember, when brushing with an RPE, use a proxabrush and a regular toothbrush. Brush as usual, and rinse with water to flush under the RPE. The use of a waterpik is helpful to dislodge food particles that can become caught in the RPE.