What Is A Palatal Expander?

Rapid Palatal Expander

A palatal expander is an appliance that fits into the roof of your mouth (palate). It widens your palate to improve the way your upper and lower jaws and teeth fit together (your bite). You wear a palatal expander for about 4 to 6 months. During the first few weeks, you or your orthodontist may activate (expand) the appliance.

What You Can Expect

Your palatal expander may take a few days to get used to. Chewing, swallowing and talking may seem awkward. Your mouth or nose may be sore or tingly, or you may have a slight headache. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help you feel better. In about a week or so, you may see gaps between your teeth. That’s a sign the expander is working. Your teeth will shift to fill the gaps.

Caring For Your Expander

Do your part to keep your palatal expander clean. Swish water in your mouth after eating or after drinking sugary soda or juice. When you brush your teeth, brush the expander too. For removable expanders, brush and rinse the appliance each time you take it out.

Activating The Expander

Initially, most expanders will need to be activated one or two times a day. You will do this with a metal key with a blue plastic handle. It may be tricky the first few times you try, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. Expanding instructions:

  1. Put the key into the expander’s keyhole. It will go in only a tiny bit. Push the key back toward your throat as far as it will go.
  2. Pull the key straight out of the hole toward your throat. Don’t pull the key forward. If you do, you might undo the expanding.
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